The Obama administration is sending important signals that the killing of Osama bin Laden means that it’s time to wind down the war and talk to the Taliban.

In a piece headlined: “With bin Laden’s death, US sees a chance to hasten the end of the Afghan war,” current and former administration officials are quoted in the Washington Post suggesting that it’s time for peace talks. Said one White House official: “Bin Laden’s death is the beginning of the endgame in Afghanistan. It changes everything.” Reports the Post’s Rajiv Chandrasekaran:

“Another senior official involved in Afghanistan policy said the killing ‘presents an opportunity for reconciliation that didn’t exist before.’ Those officials and others have engaged in urgent discussions and strategy sessions over the past two days about how to leverage the death into a spark that ignites peace talks.”

Anne-Marie Slaughter, the former director of policy planning for the State Department, is also quoted in the piece in testimony to Congress: “How are we going to get there? We can get there by continuing to fight them. I don’t think that’s actually a strategy that is successful. Or we can get there by negotiating with them in such a way to allow a political settlement where they’re part of the government. [Bin Laden’s death] creates a new opportunity to begin real negotiations.”

Equally important, yesterday the Post quoted Vali Nasr, who served as a top aide to the late Richard Holbrooke, saying: “With July 2011 around corner it now easier to argue that the fight against al-Qaeda and whatever is left of it should focus on Pakistan, and it is time to end the war in Afghanistan. With Bin Laden’s death… there is no strong argument for continuing with a full-fledged military operation in Afghanistan.” July, of course, is the deadline that President Obama set to begin the drawdown of US forces.

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