WASHINGTON, May 25(APP): The United States would welcome dialogue between the Afghan government and Taliban even if the Haqqani network took the leadership role, a US Statement Department spokesman said on Tuesday, and reiterated that the U.S. would continue to work with and help Pakistan in fighting terrorism.
Spokesman, Mark Toner replied in affirmative when asked whether the US would welcome dialogue between Taliban and the Afghan government if the Haqqani network assumed the Taliban leadership after the suspected death of their leader Mullah Akhtar Mansur.
“Sure, I will just say that the Taliban should clearly understand that the path it should pursue is one towards peaceful reconciliation,” he said while replying to the question.
Some media reports have suggested that the Haqqani network leader Sirajuddin Haqqani is among those contenders who could replace Mullah Akhtar Mansur who was allegedly killed soon after he crossed the border into Pakistan from Iran. Pakistan has not yet confirmed if he was killed in the attack.
To a question, Mr. Toner said that the US considered the Haqqani Network to be an integral part of Taliban operations and its most deadly element.
He said the United States had long called on the Taliban, including the Haqqani Network, to join a reconciliation process.
On Mullah Mansur, the Spokesman stated that he was not interested in pursuing peace as he was planning on carrying out attacks against US personnel as well as Afghan security personnel and he had represented an effort to rekindle the war and re-stoke the violence in Afghanistan.
“We believe that an Afghan-led, Afghan-owned peace process is the way ultimately to resolve the conflict in Afghanistan,” he added.
When asked to comment about Mullah Mansur’s presence in Iran, the spokesman said that he had seen those reports and “that’s about all the clarity we have on it”.
He said that the Taliban leader was reportedly carrying a fake Pakistani passport.
To a question, the spokesman observed that Pakistan’s government needed to actively pursue terrorists who had allegedly found refuge there.
“Pakistan is a country that unfortunately knows the effects of terrorism, the tragedy of terrorism. It is suffered multiple terrorist attacks, mass casualty terrorist attacks, so it understands the stakes here,” he added.
However, he said, the United States would continue to work the Pakistani authorities and a full-faith effort both to give them the tools they need and the capabilities they need to confront this threat”.
“And we’re going to also continue to, as we share intelligence and other information with them, to point out we believe that terrorists are finding safe haven”.
The spokesman declined to provide operational details of the strike that allegedly killed Mullah Mansour, when asked about Pakistan’s strong protest to the violation of its territorial sovereignty. “These are very narrow windows in any case, and it’s not just with friends and allies or partners or whoever, but in any of these instances, it’s absolutely vital to keep operational security,” he observed.