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Jalaluddin Haqqani (R), the Taliban's Minister for Tribal Affairs, points to a map of Afghanistan while his son Naziruddin (L) looks on, during a visit to Islamabad, Pakistan, in this October 19, 2001 file photo. – Reuters Photo

ISLAMABAD: The United States was not sincere about peace in Afghanistan when it signalled it would remain open to exploring a settlement that includes the Haqqani network, one of the group’s senior commanders said on Thursday.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton suggested in comments this week that Washington would not shut the door to the Haqqanis — blamed for high-profile attacks in Afghanistan — in any peace arrangement.

The Haqqanis saw the remarks as an attempt to divide Afghan militant groups and believed only the top leaders of the Taliban should negotiate, said the commander.

“We had rejected many such offers from the United States in the past and reject this new offer as we are not authorised to decide the future of Afghanistan,” he told Reuters.

The senior Haqqani commander denied that Jamil Haqqani, who was killed in a drone attack on Thursday, had links with the group.

However, an intelligence officer said that Jamil was a highly trusted companion of Sirajuddin. He had been with the Haqqani group for a long time and was tasked with handling communications.

Jamil was Sirajuddin’s cousin, he added.—Reuters

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