Dem Candidate: ‘We Have to Negotiate With the Taliban’ to End Afghanistan War

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A Democratic congressional candidate said during a debate Monday that the United States should negotiate with the Taliban.

Leslie Cockburn, who is running against Denver Riggleman in Virginia's 5th Congressional District, made the remarks during a discussion of the war in Afghanistan.

"As for what should be done in Afghanistan right now, we've been there 17 years. My friend John Sopko, who is the inspector general, tells us that we've spent nearly a trillion dollars on that war and we are definitely not winning it," Cockburn said.

"One problem is that the patron of the Taliban is Pakistan," Cockburn continued. "We have to negotiate with the Taliban and Pakistan in order to leave that war, and I think that this should be a matter of diplomacy, and it needs to happen now."

The Cook Political report rates the race in Virginia's 5th District as leaning Republican.

Cockburn is an investigative journalist and pointed out she covered three different wars at different times in Afghanistan’s history.

She also went after Riggleman, an Air Force veteran, on the grounds that he was 3,000 miles away from Afghanistan at Naval Support Facility Diego Garcia while he worked on plans for bombing missions, apparently implying he played a minor role. Cockburn also said the bombing missions were "unsuccessful" until special forces helped out on the ground.

"The bombing didn’t become successful until you had special forces on the ground calling in airstrikes," Cockburn said.

Riggleman said he was happy to work with those on the ground in Afghanistan on the airstrikes and doesn’t need to defend his service.

"We worked with the joint forward air controllers in Afghanistan … Working with the JFACs, working with stopping fratricide and friendly fire, I’m not going to defend my military service," he said.

"Those JFAC strikes on the caves? Yeah, that was us. But I do appreciate the try," Riggleman concluded.

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