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Act against Haqqani network; Hillary tells Pakistan

21 October, 2011

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ISLAMABAD: US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Friday told Pakistan to act against the Haqqani network, a militant group that the US blames for attacking its interests in Afghanistan.

Addressing a joint press conference with Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar, Hillary said here that the US has reasserted its commitment to eliminating safe havens of terror.

"We are specifically for cooperation from the Pakistani side to squeeze the Haqqani network," Hillary, who arrived in Pakistan Thursday on a two-day visit, said.

"You can't keep snakes in your backyard and expect it to only bite neighbours," a grim Hillary said with Khar by her side.

"We are specifically for cooperation from the Pakistani side to squeeze the Haqqani network," Hillary, who arrived in Pakistan Thursday on a two-day visit, said.

Hillary added that the two countries were "working to establish concrete steps".

Hillary added that Pakistan was critical to regional security and the US respected the country’s sovereignty.

Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar said misunderstandings between Pakistan and the US should be resolved and both sides were having discussions on issues of mutual interest.

Hina recognised that militants have safe havens on both sides of the porous border between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

"Do safe havens exist? Yes, they do exist both sides. Do we need to cooperate? Yes. We can cooperate more and achieve better results," she said.

Hina added that Pakistan supported an Afghan led reconciliation process.

Hillary added that Washington respected the country's sovereignty, an apparent attempt to assuage Pakistanis who have come out strongly against US drone attacks in the tribal regions and are jittery over the massing of heavily-armed US and NATO troops at the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.

Pakistan Army chief Ashfaq Parvez Kayani had earlier this week warned the US to think "10 times" before it launches a unilateral ground offensive in the country's tribal regions.

Hillary's visit takes place at a time when Pakistan-US ties have deteriorated sharply -- following the attack last month on the US embassy in Kabul and the truck bomb blast at a major American military base in Afghanistan's Maidan Wardak province, blamed on the Taliban-linked Haqqani network.

The US accuses Pakistan's intelligence agency ISI of supporting the Haqqani network in both attacks, a charge denied by Islamabad.

There is also tension over the massing of heavily-armed US and NATO troops at the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.

End.

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