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Clinton Urges Pakistan to Crack Down on Haqqani Militants

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, left, speaks during a joint news conference with Pakistan's Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar in Islamabad, Pakistan, October 21, 2011.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and other top U.S. officials pressed Pakistani leaders to do more against militant groups during the second day of her visit to Islamabad.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar both stated a desire for a peaceful and stable Afghanistan and agreed that extremists must be dealt with on both sides of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.

Secretary Clinton called the talks “serious in depth discussions” that reflected the urgency of the issues before the two countries.

“And these are issues that we feel are important for us to address together. The Afghan peace process, reconciliation, how do we do it, how do we make it work. The Haqqani network, how do we prevent them from wreaking havoc across the border and - in the words of both Pakistanis and Americans - squeeze them to prevent them from planning and executing attacks,” Clinton said.

American authorities have long pushed Pakistan to crack down on the Haqqani network in their safe havens in the North Waziristan tribal area near Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan.

Pakistani authorities say they are already stretched thin fighting extremists elsewhere to launch a new operation against the Haqqanis.

But high level U.S. officials, including former head of the Joints Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen, also say that certain elements within Pakistan’s establishment give assistance to the group.

Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar firmly denied the charge Friday and said both countries share the same goal of countering terrorism. “There is no question of any support to any safe havens inside Pakistan. Do safe havens exist on both sides of the border? Yes, the secretary is right. Safe havens do exist on both sides of the border. Terrorists exist on both sides of the border. Do we need to cooperate together, to be able to achieve results? Yes, we can cooperate more and achieve better result,” Khar stated.

Secretary Clinton arrived in Islamabad with a high level delegation that includes newly appointed CIA Director David Petraeus and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Martin Dempsey.

While in the capital, Secretary of State Clinton held talks with Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and led a lengthy town hall meeting with Pakistani students and entrepreneurs.

During the meeting the secretary encouraged better civil and economic ties between the two countries as a way out of the so-called "trust deficit" that characterizes their current relationship.