Obama makes surprise trip to Afghanistan

Yusuf

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US President Barack Obama arrived in Kabul on Sunday for an unannounced visit to Afghanistan, his first trip to the country since becoming president and commander-in-chief of the US-led war effort.

Obama's brief trip was expected to include a one-on-one meeting with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, an expanded meeting with Karzai's cabinet and US officials, and a speech to American military personnel.

A White House official, speaking before the trip, said Obama wanted to get an "on the ground update" about the war from General Stanley McChrystal, the US and NATO commander, as well as Karl Eikenberry, the US ambassador.

In December Obama ordered the deployment of an extra 30,000 US troops to Afghanistan and set a mid-2011 target to begin withdrawal.

That increase is under way, though only a few thousand of the extra troops have arrived.

Obama is expected to greet troops and meet with diplomats while in the country.

Obama's domestic victory on healthcare reform last week gives him political space to turn his attention to the Afghan war, which has mixed support from the American public amid rising casualties, costs, and corruption among Afghan leaders.

The trip allows Obama to see the early results of his troop increase strategy, show support for military personnel and refute critics who say his focus on passing healthcare legislation has diverted attention from foreign policy.

Obama traveled to Afghanistan during the 2008 US presidential election but has not been back since his victory over Republican Senator John McCain, whose criticism at the time prodded the Democrat's trip.

The White House official said weather and logistical reasons had thwarted previous attempts at a presidential visit since Obama took office in January 2009.

Much has changed during Obama's first year in office.

Top US officials held a multi-month review of the White House's war policy, culminating in the decision to send more troops.

When all 30,000 arrive by the end of this year, the number of US troops in Afghanistan will have tripled on Obama's watch to 100,000, along with more than 40,000 from other NATO countries.

Karzai, who remained in power after a fraud-marred election, has launched a high profile effort to reach for reconciliation with the Taliban, who have made a comeback more than eight years since their ousting by US-backed Afghan militias.

US defense secretary Robert Gates said last week the timing was still not right for reconciliation with senior Afghan Taliban leaders.

Obama speaks less often to Karzai than did his predecessor, former President George W Bush, who launched the war in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on New York and Washington.
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/...e-trip-to-Afghanistan/articleshow/5736089.cms
 

Quickgun Murugan

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Now that the health care bill nightmare is over, Obama can concentrate on foreign policy issues with peace.
 

nandu

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Obama vows to deny al-Qaeda safe haven in Afghan-Pak

US President Barack Obama, who made a surprise visit to Kabul and met President Hamid Karzai, has vowed to deny al-Qaeda safe haven and reverse Taliban's momentum in Afghanistan.

"We are going to disrupt and dismantle, defeat and destroy al-Qaeda and its extremist allies. That is our mission. And to accomplish that goal, our objectives here in Afghanistan are also clear: We're going to deny al-Qaeda safe haven. We're going to reverse the Taliban's momentum," Obama said in his address to US soldiers at the Bagram airfield.

The US President last night reiterated his country's support to strengthen the capacity of Afghan forces and the Afghan government so that they could take responsibility and gain confidence of their own people.

Al-Qaeda and their extremist allies were not only a threat to the people of Afghanistan and America, but also a threat to the people all around the world, he said.

http://www.indianexpress.com
 

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