“I think we are on the timeline this year to have some real good news and make some significant progress,” the Florida Republican said. “But I think if you attach a date to it … you are really creating a difficult situation. The bad guys, the Taliban and even al-Qaida, must know all they have to do is wait.”

Instead of an “artificial timeline,” Rubio suggested instead that progress be gauged by those territories that have successfully established government infrastructure and trained enough Afghan security forces.

“If there is one thing we heard clear everywhere we went, it’s that people want to make sure that we are in this to win this, that we are in this for the long haul,” Rubio said of a U.S. presence in the region. “We tried to communicate that on behalf our constituents, that the American people are not going to tolerate sanctuaries for al Qaeda or the return of the Taliban to power.”

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