Republican Sen. John McCain says Obama administration policy decisions in Afghanistan shouldn’t be based on viewing the insurgent Taliban and the al-Qaeda terrorist network as separate and distinct issues.

Interviewed Tuesday morning on NBC television, McCain said: “You can’t separate the two. ... If the Taliban returns, they will work with al-Qaeda. It’s just a historical fact.”

McCain, who was President Barack Obama’s opponent in last year’s presidential election, is among a host of key congressional leaders slated to meet later Tuesday at the White House with the president.

The administration is debating what changes may be necessary in Afghan war-fighting policy amid increasing violence and a call by the U.S. commanding general for thousands of additional fighting forces.

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