March 28th, 2010
11:55 AM ET
4 years ago

BREAKING: Obama makes surprise trip to Afghanistan

ALT TEXT

During his first trip to Afghanistan since taking office, President Obama met with Afghan President Hamid Karzai. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

(CNN) - President Barack Obama made a surprise trip Sunday to Afghanistan where he met with Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

Obama left his Camp David retreat for the previously unannounced trip and flew to Afghanistan on Air Force One, landing at Bagram Air Base at 7:24 p.m. (around 11 a.m. ET). Obama then flew on a helicopter to the Presidential Palace for a meeting with Karzai.

The two presidents took part in a 10-minute arrival ceremony before walking into the palace. U.S. officials said they planned to hold a one-on-one meeting first, joined by key aides, and then bring in Karzai's cabinet.

In a briefing with pool reporters on the trip, National Security Adviser James Jones said Obama would push Karzai to improve efforts to meet benchmarks for better governance in his second term, which began last year.

According to Jones, Obama planned to point out that certain issues such as a merit-based system for appointing key government officials, battling corruption and taking on narcotics trafficking that helps fund insurgents needed more attention.

The trip came after what has been perhaps the most successful week of Obama's presidency, in which he signed comprehensive health care legislation - his top domestic priority - into law and announced plans to sign a new nuclear arms reduction treaty with Russia on April 8.

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Afghan authorities were notified of Obama's trip on Thursday. The president previously canceled a trip to Indonesia and Australia planned for March 21-26 in order to see through passage of the health care bill.

Since taking office, Obama ordered the deployment of an additional 30,000 troops to Afghanistan while also saying he intended for combat forces to start coming home in July 2011.

Karzai has said that by the end of 2010, Afghan security forces will be able to take over some security responsibilities from international forces. By the end of his second term in 2014, Karzai has said, he would like his government to have full responsibility for security.

Karzai emerged victorious from August presidential elections that were marred by widespread fraud. Two months after the vote, a U.N.-backed panel of election monitors threw out nearly a third of Karzai's votes, citing fraud.

Left short of a majority, Karzai agreed to a runoff with challenger Abdullah Abdullah, but Abdullah withdrew just before the runoff vote.

The trip is Obama's second to Afghanistan. He first traveled there in 2008, four months before his victory in the election that made him president. On that visit, part of a broader trip to the Middle East, Obama
traveled to eastern Afghanistan to meet with U.S. forces and also met with Karzai.

Updated: 1:08 p.m.


Filed under: Afghanistan • Popular Posts • President Obama
soundoff (90 Responses)
  1. Sniffit

    How many times have we seen this President either go to Afghanistan or Iraq, or hold deep discussion with the generals and others from the field?

    The answer: many more times than Bush did...and in only 14 months vs 8 years!

    March 28, 2010 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  2. Ken in NC

    OH Boy, Republicans are gonna raise hell about the fuel charges for that trip because President Obama did not clear this trip through them. This President seems to have a mind of his own and Republicans are not used to not having control. Get used to it.

    March 28, 2010 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  3. Rush Limbaugh sponsors violence

    Now thats a real President.

    March 28, 2010 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  4. Willy Brown

    Please stay there

    March 28, 2010 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  5. nathan

    Thank God this guy got elected.

    March 28, 2010 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  6. SpringGambit

    Just another vacation trip wasting fuel, eh, GOPers?

    March 28, 2010 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  7. CHIPS

    You go Mr. President. Run this country. The Republicans can't play with the men. I glad you can multi task. Republicans wont to run the Mother land house. What kid do you know get to run their house. None. Vote out the Republicans in 2010 and beyound. Hillary in 2016.

    March 28, 2010 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  8. michael

    I have no problem with the Commander in Chief visits the troops to help in the war effort. However, not sure that they need any teleprompter-reading monkeys to win this battle.

    March 28, 2010 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  9. Pete

    It is always good to get the straight poop from the guys that are involved.

    March 28, 2010 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  10. Texas Jack

    "The danger to America is not Barack Obama but a citizenry capable of entrusting a man like him with the presidency. It will be easier to
    limit and undo the follies of an Obama presidency than to restore the
    necessary common sense and good judgment to an electorate willing to have such a man for their president. The problem is much deeper and far more serious than Mr. Obama, who is a mere symptom of what ails us. Blaming the prince of the fools should not blind anyone to the vast confederacy of fools that made him their prince. The republic can survive a Barack Obama. It is less likely to survive a multitude of fools such as those who made him their president."

    March 28, 2010 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  11. Bis

    "OH Boy, Republicans are gonna raise hell about the fuel charges for that trip because President Obama did not clear this trip through them"
    --

    That is funny, Ken, lol. They better get used to it, because he's not going to change or slow down for them to finish plotting their next move.

    @Sniffit, iAgree. He's only 14 months in and is doing pretty well.

    March 28, 2010 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  12. Sir Dennis

    It's wonderful to have Mr. Obama as our President, not only because he makes such trips, but also because he's fit and healthy enough to make such trips. You go my friend!

    March 28, 2010 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  13. Texas Jack

    "The danger to America is not Barack Obama but a citizenry capable of

    entrusting a man like him with the presidency. It will be easier to

    limit and undo the follies of an Obama presidency than to restore the

    necessary common sense and good judgment to an electorate willing to

    have such a man for their president. The problem is much deeper and far

    more serious than Mr. Obama, who is a mere symptom of what ails us.

    Blaming the prince of the fools should not blind anyone to the vast

    confederacy of fools that made him their prince. The republic can

    survive a Barack Obama. It is less likely to survive a multitude of

    fools such as those who made him their president."

    March 28, 2010 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  14. CHIPS

    You go Mr. President. Run this country. The Republicans can't play with the men. I glad you can multi task. Republicans wont to run the Mother land house. What kid do you know get to run their house. None. Vote out the Republicans in 2010 and beyound. Hillary in 2016.....

    March 28, 2010 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  15. Victoria Holmes

    Another BREAKING NEWS moment.

    March 28, 2010 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  16. Old White Virginia Female

    Tell me this man is not the ultimate multi-tasker!! And people thought he put too much on his plate. Nobody, and I do believe nobody, could address the myriad of major issues that are percolating on the stove at the moment better than his man. He did not put these issues on the plate, but he is not going to shirk away from addressing any of them. Please let's not let the right wing squeaky wheel "take back our country" by nullifying this President's ability to act. He cannot do it alone and it is up to us to get out and vote in this midterm election to give him the help he needs. But I must say he is doing more than any President I have seen in my 65 years.

    March 28, 2010 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  17. CHIPS

    You go Mr. President. Run this country. The Republicans can't play with the men. I'm glad you can multi task. Republicans wont to run the Mother land house. What kid do you know get to run their house. None. Vote out the Republicans in 2010 and beyound. Hillary in 2016.

    March 28, 2010 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  18. Tyler

    To be fair, Sniffit, we weren't in Iraq and Afganistan for all 8 years of the Bush Presidency. I do agree, however, that President Obama is doing a good job on that front.

    March 28, 2010 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  19. John

    I just wonder what the Republicans will say when President Obama
    gets Bin Laden?

    March 28, 2010 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  20. Rick McDaniel

    He just likes to travel, on the public's nickle.

    March 28, 2010 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  21. Nicholas Hendrickson

    I just got a strange mental image of Pres. Obama popping out of Air Force 1 yelling "SURPRISE!! :D"

    March 28, 2010 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  22. John A. Hernandea

    This President’s agenda is unstoppable. He does not rest , sleep or stand back. Stay the course Mr. President, at the end of the day you will succeeded and this nation will be a better place because of your actions.

    March 28, 2010 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  23. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    I guess the Republicans will say President Obama is fueling the flames by going to Afghan. Keep moving Mr. President and leave the Republicans standing still and moving backwards as they continue to fight among themselves over healthcare reform. WE'RE MOVING ON WHILE REPUBLICANS ARE MOVING BACKWARDS.

    March 28, 2010 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  24. nathan

    michael with a both racist and cowardly post. Come out of Mommy's basement tuff guy.

    March 28, 2010 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  25. Texas Bill

    Texas Jack,

    And this is all suppose to be truth just because you said so?

    March 28, 2010 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
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