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Obama Makes Surprise Visit to Afghanistan

Friday, 03 December 2010 01:05 PM

President Obama made an unannounced visit to Afghanistan on Friday as he sought to smooth over a troubled relationship with President Hamid Karzai and take stock of a 9-year-old American-led war that he hopes to begin winding down next summer, The New York Times reports.

Mr. Obama arrived at Bagram Air Base after a secret overnight flight. Bad weather and high winds forced the White House to drop plans for Mr. Obama to fly by helicopter into Kabul to meet with Mr. Karzai, who has complained vocally about American military tactics in recent weeks. But the two leaders were planning to talk by phone, officials said.

Mr. Obama also planned to consult with his commanding general and visit American troops who are heading into another holiday season far from home.

Administration officials told reporters during the flight that Mr. Obama was not carrying any particular message for Mr. Karzai, with whom he met several weeks ago during a summit meeting in Lisbon. They said Mr. Obama would address troops from the 101st Airborne Division — now on its fourth combat deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan — and members of other units, and would award four Purple Hearts to wounded troops, according to the pool report from journalists who flew with Mr. Obama on Air Force One.

Wrapped in a tight security cocoon, Mr. Obama was scheduled to be on the ground for only a few hours, in his second trip in nine months to a country ravaged by war. But his arrival came at critical juncture, as he and other NATO allies put in place a transition plan meant to hand over control of the battlefield to Afghan forces. The intention is to formally end foreign combat operations in Afghanistan by the end of 2014.

Read the entire story at nytimes.com

© Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Friday, 03 December 2010 01:05 PM
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