WASHINGTON (Agencies) - US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Tuesday signaled the United States remains open to exploring a peace deal including the Haqqani network, the militant group that US officials blame for a campaign of high-profile violence that could jeopardise Washingtons plans for withdrawing smoothly from Afghanistan. Where we are right now is that we view the Haqqanis and other of their ilk as, you know, being adversaries and being very dangerous to Americans, Afghans and coalition members inside Afghanistan, but we are not shutting the door on trying to determine whether there is some path forward, Clinton said when asked whether she believed members of the Haqqani network might reconcile with the Afghan government. Its too soon to tell whether any of these groups or any individuals within them are serious, she said in an interview with Reuters. Inclusion of the Haqqani network in a hoped-for peace deal - now a chief objective in the Obama administrations Afghanistan policy after a decade of war - is a controversial idea in Washington. Officials blame the group for last months attack on the US embassy in Kabul and a truck bombing that injured scores of American soldiers. The State Department is facing heat from Capitol Hill for refraining, at least so far, from officially designating the Haqqani group, which US officials say is based in western Pakistan, as a terrorist organisation. The White House has backed away from assertions from Admiral Mike Mullen, who was the top US military officer until he retired last month, that Pakistani intelligence supported the Haqqani network in the September 13 embassy attack. But President Obama and others have put their sometimes-ally Pakistan on notice that it must crack down on militants or risk severing a key relationship. According to media reports, US officials have held meetings with Haqqani network representatives as part of their efforts - which have not yet yielded any visible results - to strike a peace deal, but the State Department declines to discuss details of the reconciliation process. Earlier this year, Clinton advanced a peace deal as a key plank of regional policy for the first time, saying Washington would support a settlement between the Afghan government and those militant groups that meet certain requirements, including renouncing violence and supporting the Afghan constitution. Despite the conciliatory signals, Clinton said the United States would stick to its military campaign that the White House hopes will make militants more likely to enter serious negotiations. Now, it is also true that we are still trying to kill and capture or neutralise them (the Haqqani network), Clinton said. And they are still trying to, you know, kill as many Americans, Afghans and coalition members as they can. In many instances where there is an ongoing conflict, you are fighting and looking to talk, Clinton said. And then eventually maybe you are fighting and talking. And then maybe youve got a ceasefire. And then maybe you are just talking. It is unclear how quickly a peace deal could be had, as it remains unclear how military commanders can achieve and defend security improvements as the foreign force in Afghanistan gradually grows smaller. While parts of the Talibans southern heartland are safer than they were, Obama will be withdrawing the extra troops he sent to Afghanistan in 2010 just as commanders focus turns to the rugged eastern regions where the Haqqani group are believed to operate. Clinton did not directly address the question of designating the Haqqani network as a 'foreign terrorist organisation, but suggested the United States would want to keep its options open as it seeks peace in a region known for historic merry-go-round of political and military alliances. Its always difficult in this stage of a conflict, as you think through what is the resolution you are seeking and how do you best obtain it, to really know where youll be in two months, four months, six months, Clinton said. We are going to support the Afghans and they want to continue to see whether there is any way forward or whether you can see some of the groups or their leaders willing to break with others. Meanwhile, US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta said the United States is 'fighting a war in Pakistan. Addressing an audience at an event titled 'Defence Priorities: Today and Tomorrow, organised by the Woodrow Wilson Centre for International Scholars, Panetta pointed towards a 'complicated relationship between the US and Pakistan. And admittedly, there are a lot of reasons for that. We are fighting a war in their country, he said. They have, in fact, given us cooperation in the operations of trying to confront Al-Qaeda in (tribal areas) And they continue to work with us, he said. But, we have great differences, especially with regards to relationships they maintain with some militant groups, he added. In response to a question, Panetta said that a stable and secure Pakistan was vital for a secure Afghanistan. We cannot resolve issues of Afghanistan without solving issues of Pakistan, he maintained. Speaking on Pakistans nuclear arsenal, Panetta said that Pakistan was also increasing its nuclear assets, and highlighted how Iran and North Korea remained as threats due to their nuclear programmes. He also said that there was a need for Pakistan and India to work on resolving their differences. Panetta also warned against across the board cuts in military spending and said that there was a need to not repeat mistakes of the past.