A senior commander from the influential Afghan Haqqani terror group rejected Monday overtures for peace talks from the United States.
"They [the Americans] would not be able to find a possible solution to the Afghan conflict until and unless they hold talks with the Taliban shura," said the Haqqani group commander, referring to the Taliban leadership council.
Last week, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited Islamabad with a delegation of US military and intelligence heavyweights to urge Pakistan to persuade the Haqqanis to pursue peace.
She also warned tough action would have to be taken against Afghan and Pakistani terrorists if they did not cooperate in efforts to stabilize Afghanistan. It is unclear how Clinton's "tough action" would impress terror commanders in the region, who have been actively targeted for assassination by the US.
The Haqqani commander, speaking on condition of anonymity, viewed her efforts with skepticism.
"This is not the first time the US has approached us for peace talks. The Americans had made several such attempts for talks which we rejected as we are an integral part of the Taliban led by Mullah Mohammad Omar," he said by telephone from an undisclosed location in Afghanistan.
"We are united and our goal is to liberate our homeland Afghanistan from the clutches of occupying forces."
Clinton said the United States had held preliminary meetings with the Haqqanis — arguably the most dangerous Afghan insurgent faction — and was working with Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The terror group’s denial comes as the United States and its coalition partners begin plans for a troop gradual withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan that would be completed by 2013. US commanders have been quick to tout tactical successes, but no end to the Taliban insurgency is in sight.
The withdrawal of troops from the region - a major campaign promise and foreign policy plank of US President Barack Obama - has therefore come under increasing criticism in recent months amid mounting successes by Taliban insurgents, and a poor assessment of the Afghani security forces ability to confront them.
Analysts say the Taliban, for whom a peace agreement with the US is of dubious value, and whose recent successes have been likened to the Tet Offensive, is liable to continue its insurgency until the US withdrawal is complete.
At that time, the analysts say, the Taliban will declare 'victory' and continue their campaign to retake Kabul.