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Clinton holds 'frank' talks in Pakistan

From Jill Dougherty and Elise Labott, CNN
updated 12:12 PM EDT, Fri October 21, 2011
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Clinton pushed Pakistanis for more action against Haqqani network
  • She admitted the U.S. had met with the Haqqani network once
  • Clinton also met with Pakistan's president

Islamabad, Pakistan (CNN) -- Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made the case to both Pakistani officials and public Friday for stronger action to deny safe havens to terrorists -- even as she explained why the United States tried to talk to one insurgent group.

In a news conference with Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar, Clinton said they spoke about the Haqqani network, a Pakistan-based group believed to be responsible for attacks against U.S. troops in Afghanistan. The United States has accused Pakistan's top spy agency of aiding the network

"Nobody that launches attacks should be tolerated with safe haven in a country," Clinton said.

Khar said that safe havens on both sides of the border are an issue, and that Pakistan is working to establish "concrete steps" to "squeeze" the Haqqani network.

But at a roundtable with journalists, Clinton admitted that the United States itself had reached out to the Haqqanis, though, according to a senior State Department official, the meeting happened before the recent attacks.

Clinton was asked if the United States was being contradictory by calling for Pakistan to squeeze them out while the American reached out to them.

"We do not see any contradiction," Clinton said. "In fact, the Pakistani government officials helped to facilitate such a meeting."

The senior State Department official said that the United States met with the Haqqani network at the urging of Pakistani intelligence, and reiterated that America was willing to negotiate with anyone who meets certain guidelines, like not attacking U.S. or Afghan troops. In the case of the Haqqanis, the United States is prepared to fight, the official said.

Khar said that from the Pakistani point of view, they want to get the Haqqani network into the peace process. If the network does not participate in peace talks, he said, the Pakistani government is willing to do what it takes to get them to stop launching attacks.

In a private meeting, Clinton spoke with Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari.

Clinton also held a town hall meeting with members of the Pakistani public. She told the crowd that the question is not whether the United States and Pakistan should work together, but how. Common interests have given way to mutual distrust, she said.

Before going to Pakistan, Clinton stopped in Afghanistan to meet with President Hamid Karzai. Her visit to Afghanistan followed a stop in Libya.

Clinton left Pakistan and flew to Tajikistan on Friday.

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