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Pak Army denies reports of facilitating Karzai meeting with militants

By Rezaul H Laskar
July 02, 2010 02:41 IST
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The Pakistan Army distanced itself from media reports that its chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani had arranged a secret meeting between Afghan President Hamid Karzai and the leader of the Haqqani militant network based in North Waziristan.

In a brief statement issued by the military on Thursday night, Kayani referred to recent news reports of his meetings in Afghanistan and said that he had met President Karzai during his last two visits to Kabul to "discuss issues of mutual interests".

"On both these occasions, ex-commander (of the) International Security Assistance Force Gen Stanley McChrystal was also present," Kayani was quoted as saying in the statement. The military did not specify when the two meetings were held. "This

transparent trilateral engagement augurs well for the comfort level of the leadership of all prime stakeholders and strengthens the existing relationship,"Kayani said.

Al-Jazeera channel had reported on Sunday that Karzai had met Al-Qaeda-linked militant commander Sirajuddin Haqqani for "face-to-face" talks in the company of Kayani and Inter-Services Intelligence agency chief Lieutenant General Ahmed Shuja Pasha. Haqqani's network is based in North Waziristan tribal region, which borders Afghanistan. Karzai's spokesman has already dismissed media reports of a meeting between the Afghan President and Haqqani. However, recent reports have suggested that the Pakistan Army is playing a key role in talks between Karzai and Afghan militant commanders.

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Rezaul H Laskar in Islamabad
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