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US to press Pak to squeeze Haqqani network: Clinton

Washington/Islamabad: The United States has said that it will continue to press Islamabad to "squeeze" the al-Qaeda linked Haqqani network, as Afghanistan blamed the Pakistan-based group for the latest brazen attacks in Kabul.

Declaring "there were indications of Haqqani involvement" in the weekend attacks in the Afghan capital, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that she had pressed Pakistan to "squeeze" the Haqqani network when she visited Islamabad last October. "I will continue to make that point, and press it hard," Clinton was quoted by Fox News as telling reporters in the Brazilian capital Brasilia, where she described the Pakistan-based outfit as a "determined foe".

Afghan Interior Minister Bismillah Mohammadi had told newsmen in Kabul that one of the militants arrested during the latest attacks on the Afghan capital and three other cities had told the authorities that al-Qaeda linked Haqqani network was behind the assaults.

The Secretary of State said she had spoken to her Pakistani counterpart Hina Rabbani Khar to urge her for a commitment to work closely for peace and stability in Afghanistan and also discussed the recent terrorist attacks in Kabul.

The telephonic talks between Clinton and Khar come a day ahead of a crucial meeting of Pakistan`s top civilian and military leadership, who are expected to take a final decision on re-opening of logistic supply lines to Nato troops in Afghanistan.

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani will preside over the meeting of the defence committee of cabinet, which will also be attended by key ministers, Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee General Shamim Wyeen, Army Chief Ashfaq Pervez Kayani and chiefs of airforce and navy.

The meeting has been called days after the parliament unanimously approved a resolution for resetting the country`s strained relations with the US. The parliament had opposed use of supply route for arms transfer to Nato troops and called for an immediate cessation of US drone strikes on Pakistani soil. Pakistani media reports said that the meeting will formally announce reopening of NATO supply route.

In Washington State Department spokesperson Mark Toner told reporters: "They (Clinton and Khar) did discuss next steps in the US-Pakistani dialogue in light of the conclusion of this parliamentary review. They also, of course, discussed the attacks in Afghanistan."

"Our posture right now is you know we recognise that this has been a long and difficult road for Pakistan. It speaks to the strength of Pakistan`s democratic institutions that this parliamentary review`s taken place, that the civilian government has taken the lead on this issue, has owned it, and has come up with a series of recommendations. I think it`s incumbent on us now to engage with them in a discussion about some of those recommendations," he said.

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