The Haqqani militant faction, one of the most violent players in Afghanistan's anti-government insurgency, reportedly is willing to enter into peace talks with the United States as long as their Taliban allies approve and participate.
"If the central shura [Islamic council], headed by Taliban supreme leader Mullah Mohammad Omar, decided to hold talks with the United States, we would welcome it," an unidentified Haqqani commander told Reuters by telephone.
While this conciliatory tone came as somewhat of surprise, the Haqqanis nonetheless warned that they would not ease up on attacking Western targets in the country in order to overthrow the government of President Hamid Karzai and establish an Islamic state.
The US government classified the Haqqani as a terrorist organization in September, while the UN Security Council slapped sanctions on the group.
Haqqanis have been widely blamed for a number of spectacular terror strikes, including an 18-hour siege on Kabul embassies and the Afghan parliament in April,
It is unclear where or when any potential peace negotiations would take place.
Earlier this year the Taliban suspended peace talks with the United States. The White House is eager to stabilize Afghanistan ahead of the final withdrawal of NATO troops in 2014.
The Haqqani commander also sneered at US President Barack Obama.
"From what we see on the ground, Obama would not wait for 2014 to call back his forces," he said.
"[Western troops] suffered heavy human and financial losses and are not in a position to suffer more. We are present everywhere in Afghanistan now and can carry out attacks when and wherever we want. We are very close to our victory."
Dating back to the 1980s when they fought the invading Soviet army, the Haqqanis are believed to be highly-trained and well-funded.
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