President Barack Obama is holding out hope that US forces in Afghanistan can peel away elements of the Taliban and possibly move them toward reconciliation.
In an interview with The New York Times, Obama said there may be such opportunities. But he said the situation in Afghanistan was, if anything, more complicated than the challenges the American military had faced in Iraq.
US troops were able to persuade Sunni Muslim insurgents in Iraq to cooperate in some instances because they had been alienated by the terrorist tactics of al-Qaida.
Obama cautioned that in Afghanistan, there was a less-governed region and a history of fierce independence among tribes, meaning a stiff challenge for the United States.