Even as their killer drones strike at ranking members of the al Qaeda linked Haqqani network, US officials secretly met leaders of the group this summer in a Persian Gulf country, in an effort to draw them into talks on winding down the war.
Though Washington has publicly scorned the group which it has blamed for bringing a new level of violence in the Afghan insurgency, Wall Street Journal said senior US officials had a meeting with Haqqani representatives in an undisclosed Persian Gulf country.
The meeting, the paper said, was set up by Pakistan's Inter Services Intelligence spy agency, a fact that the Americans said confirmed their suspicions of Pakistan's ties to the Haqqanis.
The meeting took place as the Haqqanis were stepping up attacks in and around Afghan capital Kabul, but before their most high-profile strike to date, the assault on the US embassy which began on September 13.
Quoting a Pakistani official, the paper said Islamabad began facilitating contacts with the Haqqanis late last year and set up the meeting this summer in a Persian Gulf country. The Afghan government was not invited.
WSJ said the US wouldn't identify the officials who participated, but the Pakistani officials said the Haqqanni network was represented by one of the sons of the terror group's founder, Jalaluddin Haqqani.
But, US officials said the push to draw Haqqanis into talks had yielded little.