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Wednesday, April 7, 2010 as of 11:14 AM ET

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Conor Powell

Afghanistan

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Karzai Meets With Taliban Leader

June 28, 2010 - 12:49 PM | by: Conor Powell

Afghan President Hamid Karzai held secret talks over the weekend with an Al Qaeda-linked Taliban leader blamed for some of the most violent attacks on Afghan and international civilians, Fox News has confirmed.

According to Afghan and Pakistani government sources close to President Karzai, Sirajuddin Haqqani, the day-to-day commander of the Haqqani Network, spent several days in Kabul meeting with Karzai. The meeting was set up by Pakistan’s intelligence agency- the ISI – which provides support and assistance to the Haqqani Network in Pakistan.

On Monday an Afghan government spokesman, however, denied the report.

“There is no truth to it,” said Waheed Omer, Karzai’s personal spokesman. “It is absolutely baseless. He [Haqqani] was not in Kabul.”

The ISI has long been accused of harboring Taliban fighters within Pakistan’s chaotic and violent tribal region bordering Afghanistan.

Once supported by the CIA, the Haqqani Network was started by Sirajuddin’s father Jalaluddin Haqqani. But now it maintains deep ties with Al Qaeda and other terror groups.

According to western officials, the group is considered the most violent and dangerous of the three main Taliban factions. They are blamed for organizing and carrying out both the U.N. guest house and Indian guest house attacks in Kabul this past year, and are also responsible for introducing suicide attackers to Afghanistan.

In recent weeks, the ISI has reached out to Karzai in an effort to negotiate an end to the violence in Afghanistan.

The meeting is another sign that Afghan President Hamid Karzai is actively trying broker a deal with the Taliban. However, his efforts have caused a split among Afghanistan’s political class.

In early June, Afghanistan’s Interior Minister, Hanif Atmar, and intelligence chief, Amrullah Saleh, resigned over the Karzai’s efforts to reach out to the Pakistanis. And the opposition leader, Dr. Abdullah Abdullah has criticized Karzai for negotiating with the ISI.

U.S. military officials in Kabul said they were aware of the “conversations” but that they could not comment on meetings.

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