Pakistan's intelligence agency may still be providing support to the Taliban and other Islamist fighters, US President Barack Obama's nominee to be ambassador to Afghanistan said on Thursday.
"It's been unclear if all elements of ISI have dropped their support for Taliban and their extremist allies," Lieutenant General Karl Eikenberry told lawmakers, using the acronym for Pakistan's spy agency.
The issue of improving cooperation among US, Afghan, and Pakistani security forces against extremists -- including sharing intelligence -- will be a top issue at three-way talks in May, Eikenberry said.
His comments to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee came after The New York Times reported that operatives in Pakistan's military intelligence provide cash, supplies and strategic advice to the Taliban Islamist militia.
Eikenberry declined to confirm the account but underlined that Pakistan "has a very unclear and ambiguous relationship" with the Taliban and blamed Pakistani "sanctuaries" housing extremists "first and foremost" for worsening security concerns in neighboring Afghanistan.
"Why is it increasingly dangerous and difficult in Afghanistan? The first and foremost would be the problem that has come to pass with the problem of sanctuary inside of Pakistan," he said.
"We can succeed in Afghanistan, it's true, but if we don't address the problem, the linked problems in Pakistan, then we'll have no lasting success," he told the committee.
The panel is due to send Eikenberry's nomination to the full Senate, where he is expected to win confirmation quickly amid universal applause for past work as commander of US forces in Afghanistan.