Key Republican: Success In Afghanistan May Mean Including Taliban

May 13, 2011

Sen. Richard Lugar (R-IN) is a leading Republican voice on foreign policy and someone who Democratic President Barack Obama listens to.

On Morning Edition today, Lugar told host Steve Inskeep that with al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden now dead and with Obama's planned summer 2011 start of troop withdrawals looming, it's more important than ever that the president lay out his "definition of success [in Afghanistan] and ... the plan to get to that point."

"He's not done that" yet, Lugar said of the president.

So what would the senator say is the definition of success?

"Stability in the various provinces," even if that means giving the Taliban influence or some control in the southern part of Afghanistan — its traditional stronghold.

"Our preference would very clearly be people other than the Taliban," Lugar said. But if giving it some role in governing would lead to a more stable Afghanistan, the potential benefits could outweigh the problems.

Lugar is the ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

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