Obama Makes Surprise Visit To Afghanistan
President Barack Obama has made an unexpected visit to Afghanistan where he promised troops they would bring the war to “a responsible end” by the end of this year.
He told soldiers at Bagram Air Field they would soon be going home, as Afghan forces prepare to take over the country’s security.
During his brief trip Mr Obama did not meet Afghan President Hamid Karzai, with whom he has often been at loggerheads. One US official told AFP news agency that Mr Karzai had refused to see Mr Obama.
Most of the 32,800 American forces now in Afghanistan are due to depart by the close of 2014.
Mr Karzai has refused to sign a bilateral security deal proposed by the US that would allow a small contingent of American troops to remain in the country.
But the two candidates running to succeed Mr Karzai after next month’s presidential elections have signalled they may approve such an agreement.
Mr Obama – who was on his fourth trip to the country, the last being in 2012 – promised a decision on the matter soon.
“For many of you, this will be your last tour in Afghanistan,” Mr Obama told applauding troops in an aircraft hangar. “America’s war in Afghanistan will come to a responsible end.”
Mr Obama’s flying visit came on the eve of Memorial Day, when the US remembers its troops who have died in service.