During his confirmation hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee this morning, General David Petraeus told Senator Carl Levin that Afghan President Hamid Karzai denies reports that he recently met with a leader of the Haqqani Network.
This past weekend, Al Jazeera reported that Karzai met with Siraj Haqqani, who leads the Taliban- and al Qaeda-affiliated network in Pakistan and Afghanistan, to discuss a power-sharing agreement. The meeting was reportedly orchestrated by Pakistani intelligence and army officials, who have long supported the Haqqani Network. [See LWJ report: “Afghan president meets with Siraj Haqqani: Report.”]
The Al Jazeera account followed several other press accounts saying that Pakistani officials were indeed trying to broker a deal between the Afghan government and Haqqani.
However, Petraeus explained today that Karzai personally assured him, while Petraeus was en route to the confirmation hearing this morning, that the meeting with Siraj Haqqani or any other senior Haqqani leader did not take place.
Of course, Karzai would have little incentive to admit that such a meeting took place, if in fact it did. But US intelligence officials contacted by The Long War Journal also cast doubt on the Al Jazeera report.
These officials do not dispute press reports saying that the Pakistanis are attempting to broker a deal between Haqqani and the Afghan government. Instead, they disputed the notion that Karzai could have met with Haqqani in a face-to-face meeting. One senior intelligence official pointed to Karzai’s heavy American security detail as an obstacle to such a meeting.
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