ISLAMABAD (Agencies) - The Haqqani network, one of the most feared insurgent groups in Afghanistan, would take part in peace talks with the Kabul government and the United States only if the Taliban did, its leader Sirajuddin Haqqani told Reuters on Saturday. The Haqqanis technically fall under the command of the Taliban leader Mullah Omar, though US officials believe they can act independently. The group has become so confident after battlefield gains, that it no longer has sanctuaries in Pakistan, and instead felt secure inside Afghanistan, said Sirajuddin in a rare interview, by telephone from an undisclosed location.In what Sirajuddin described as a further sign of strength, the Haqqanis are also consolidating their hold on eastern Afghanistan, forcing rival insurgent groups out of territory they have claimed. The militant leader is described by US forces in Afghanistan as one of their most lethal enemies. The US has posted a bounty of up to $5 million for him. The Haqqanis rejected several peace gestures from the United States and President Hamid Karzais government in the past because they were an attempt to create divisions between militant groups, he said. Any further efforts to do so would fail, added Sirajuddin. They offered us very very important positions but we rejected and told them they would not succeed in their nefarious designs. They wanted to divide us, said Sirajuddin. We would support whatever solution our shura members suggest for the future of Afghanistan, he said, referring to the Afghan Taliban leadership. Despite hopes that talks with the Taliban could provide the political underpinning for a US staged withdrawal from Afghanistan, the discussions are still not at the stage where they can be a deciding factor. Months of talks between the two sides - a crucial building block in any eventual political solution - have yet to develop into serious negotiations. Washington has repeatedly pressed Pakistan to go after the Haqqani network it believes is based in the North Waziristan tribal region near the Afghan border. Gone are the days when we were hiding in the mountains along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. Now we consider ourselves more secure in Afghanistan besides the Afghan people. Senior military and police officials are with us, said Sirajuddin, believed to be in his late 30s. There are sincere people in the Afghan government who are loyal to the Taliban as they know our goal is the liberation of our homeland from the clutches of occupying forces. Defence Secretary Leon Panetta warned Pakistan on Wednesday the United States would do everything we can to defend US forces from Pakistan-based militants staging attacks in Afghanistan. US officials suspect militants from the Haqqani network were behind Tuesdays rocket attack on the US embassy compound in Kabul, as well as a recent truck bomb that wounded 77 members of the American forces. The Haqqani network is perhaps the most divisive issue between allies Pakistan and the United States, whose ties have been heavily strained by the unilateral American raid that killed Osama bin Laden in a Pakistani town in May. Pakistan denies accusations it has ties to the Haqqanis. If it is confirmed that the Haqqanis have left North Waziristan, US pressure on Pakistan to eliminate the group may ease. Asked if the Haqqani network was behind the Tuesdays assault, Sirajuddin said: For some reasons, I would not like to claim that fighters of our group had carried out the recent attack on US embassy and Nato headquarters. Our central leadership, particularly senior members of the shura, suggested I should keep quiet in future if the US and its allies suffer in future. Pacifying the Haqqanis could boost the chances of a peaceful settlement in Afghanistan, where violence is at its most intense since the overthrow of the Taliban government in late 2001. While Jalaluddin is still revered by militants, ill health forced him to pass on leadership of the group to Sirajuddin, who is seen as far more ruthless. Asked whether there are 10,000 Haqqani fighters as some media reports have suggested, Sirajuddin laughed and said: That figure is actually less than the actual number. Sirajuddin said fighters from an insurgent group led by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar had tried to take on US troops in Haqqani territory. I spoke to the shura ... whether I should allow them to operate in my area of control. They did not allow me and then I ordered Hekmatyars fighters to either join the Taliban or leave Khost and they left the area, he said. Meanwhile, the US ambassador to Islamabad said in remarks broadcast Saturday that there is evidence linking the Haqqani insurgent network to the Pakistani government, a charge that could raise tensions in an already strained anti-terror alliance between Washington and Islamabad. The attack that took place in Kabul a few days ago, that was the work of the Haqqani Network, Munter said during the interview with Radio Pakistan. And the facts, that we have said in the past, (is) that there are problems, there is evidence linking the Haqqani network to the Pakistan government. This is something that must stop.