March 9th, 2009
02:45 PM ET
5 years ago

Obama floats talking with Taliban

U.S. forces have been engaged in fierce fighting to oust the Taliban in Afghanistan.
U.S. forces have been engaged in fierce fighting to oust the Taliban in Afghanistan.

(CNN) - President Obama says the United States is open to reaching out to some moderate voices in the Taliban, but critics say that's not the right approach.

In an interview published in the New York Times this weekend, Obama said some military leaders believe that part of the success in Iraq has come from reaching out to Sunni militants there.

The president said while the situation in Afghanistan is much more complex, there may be some comparable opportunities in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

"I don't want to prejudge the review that's currently taking place. If you talk to Gen. [David] Petraeus, I think he would argue that part of the success in Iraq involved reaching out to people that we would consider to be Islamic fundamentalists, but who were willing to work with us because they had been completely alienated by the tactics of al Qaeda in Iraq," he told the Times.

The Obama administration is reviewing the U.S. policy toward Afghanistan and Pakistan, with hopes of finding a new strategy.

Asked if the United States is winning the war in Afghanistan, Obama said "no."

Given that remark, Gary Berntsen, a former CIA officer who led CIA forces in Afghanistan after 9/11, said Monday that it could be difficult to get members of the Taliban to work with the United States.

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