Haqqani network ‘ready to enter peace talks with US if Mullah Omar approves’


The Haqqani network, responsible for a series of high-profile attacks in Afghanistan, is prepared to enter talks with the United States if sanctioned by the head of the Taliban, according to a senior commander.
He added that the Haqqanis, a militia operating as a branch of the Afghan Taliban, would keep up pressure on international forces to leave.
Peace talks between the US and the Taliban have stalled over the issue of a prisoner exchange, described by insurgent negotiators as a crucial confidence building gesture.
The unidentified Haqqani commander accused Washington of trying to sow divisions within insurgent ranks.
“However, if the central shura, headed by Taliban supreme leader Mullah Mohammad Omar, decided to hold talks with the United States, we would welcome it,” he said.
His comments echo similar statements by other leaders, who accuse the US of insincerity.
Meanwhile, the 2014 deadline for the withdrawal of international forces draws nearer with many Taliban watchers concluding that the insurgents are content to sit tight and wait for Nato-led forces to leave.
The commander added that the Haqqani network welcomed Obama’s re-election, predicting he would be demoralized by battlefield losses and pull out U.S. forces earlier than expected.
“From what we see on the ground, Obama would not wait for 2014 to call back his forces,” he said.
“They suffered heavy human and financial losses and are not in a position to suffer more.”