US Senator to visit Afghanistan after Osama's death
Washington: Senior US Senator John Kerry said on Tuesday he would travel to Afghanistan in mid-May to weigh the effects of Osama bin Laden's death on the US-led struggle to rout Islamist fighters there.
"With the death of bin Laden, some people are sure to ask, 'Why don't we just pack up and leave Afghanistan?'" Kerry, a Democrat, said as he led a hearing of his Senate Foreign Relations Committee on US policy in Afghanistan.
The lawmaker said he was going to Afghanistan the weekend of May 14 "and hope to be able to get a good sense from the Afghans, from President (Hamid) Karzai and others, what their take is on where we are as well as the events that have taken place in Pakistan and how that might affect some of their calculations."
Kerry said he aimed to take stock of how bin Laden's death at the hands of US special forces would affect prospects for negotiating with any Taliban Islamist fighters willing to work out a "grand bargain" with Washington.
"We have to ask at every turn if our strategy in Afghanistan is sustainable. Our military and civilian strategies need the support in Afghanistan that is viable, as we transition and draw down our forces," he said.
"I am confident that we have the ability to achieve our goals and to get where we need to get to," Kerry said two days after the US raid on bin Laden's comfortable compound in Pakistan near an elite military academy.
The lawmaker, a long-time champion of closer US ties to Pakistan said he would weigh how the Al-Qaeda chief's apparently unperturbed life in Pakistan "says about that alliance and about the prospects for peace in Afghanistan."
Extremist "sanctuaries in Pakistan continue to threaten the prospects for peace in Afghanistan. And while we have been working closely with our Pakistani allies to address our common threats, ultimately we must address Pakistani concerns about what the end-state in Afghanistan will look like," he said.