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U.S. Senator: Bin Laden's Death 'Potentially Game-Changing' For Afghanistan

U.S. Senator John Kerry

U.S. Senator John Kerry

WASHINGTON -- A senior U.S. lawmaker says that the death of Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in a U.S. raid in Pakistan last week provides a "game-changing opportunity" in neighboring Afghanistan and a greater opportunity for a political solution to the insurgency-driven conflict there.

"Osama bin Laden's death was more than a critical triumph in our fight against terrorism," said Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry (Democrat-Massachusetts) at a May 10 hearing in Congress entitled "Steps Needed For a Successful 2014 Transition in Afghanistan."

"It provides a potentially game-changing opportunity to build momentum for a political solution in Afghanistan that could also bring greater stability to the region, as well as, ultimately, enable the allies to bring their troops home."

Both Kerry and the committee's top Republican, Senator Richard Lugar (Indiana), however, warned against a hasty withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan.

President Barack Obama has ordered the first "conditions based" withdrawals of American troops to begin later this summer.

Also on May 10, U.S. Major General John Campbell told reporters via video conference from eastern Afghanistan that there is now "great potential for many of the insurgents to say, 'Hey, I want to reintegrate'" by laying down arms and renouncing terrorism.

with agency reports