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.
Is he trying to strum up a allie against Israel?
michael March 28th, 2010 12:05 pm ET
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.
Hey uh, Mike buddy, can you be more specific with your post? Are you for or against Obama? Just wondered after your last sentence in your post there..hope you're a good man.
The republicans are dividing our country.Prez Obama is doing a great job. The troops need encouragement from the Prez Obama.
Great job Prez Obama.
While Obama is fixing the mess created by Bush.
Palin is pooping around like a Bit*h.
Please.We, the sane people of Texas,will take our great State back soon.
This is a clear sign that Palin will resoundingly defeat Obambi in 2012, becoming America's next and greatest president of all times!
@2 Terms for Obama. Bravo! Bravo! You told both Michael and Willy Brown, President Obama's detractors, a thing or two. We have the best President we've had in a very long time and the haters refuse to see it. Heck, if they can love Caribou Barbie, they can love President Obama.
To Willy Brown: Man, I see you on here a lot. Why don't you come out of your mother's basement and get a job?
I'd like to meet this here "michael March 28th, 2010 12:05 pm ET" in person. i hear they have to lock up childrem when "michael March 28th, 2010 12:05 pm ET" comes to town! No, I kid. I know you are just some 13 year old w/nuthin better to do!!
Anonymous March 28th, 2010 12:17 pm ET
why is it that all the comments on here supporting obama have about 10 misspelled words?? Coincidence? I think not...
But it is not true oh one who hides his handle so as not to embarrass himself if he should misspell a word or two..it's true that you "think not"..
"Anonymous March 28th, 2010 12:17 pm ET
why is it that all the comments on here supporting obama have about 10 misspelled words?? Coincidence? I think not..."
You are SO correct! You can tell A LOT from the way a person "tries" to portray themself by the grammar/language they write/spew. Some are not even worth trying to figure out "WAHT" they are thinking!...Sam
You belong to the regime of Robert mugabe... there is where people elect due to race ...etinicity and other factors. .. But here in the free world.. we elect because of your capability. There is no different between you (Texas Jack) and those uneducated people in the remotes area of the world. Here in the Free world Barack Obama is the man. Get over it and be happy .. ok
BTW...MOST of the people that SUPPORT President Obama I feel, are intellectual due to their persistence of learning AND utilizing their brains!...Sam
so he left one war-torn country and is visiting another........not sure if we we'll survive his return when he resumes that transparent, bipartisan, unifying track he's on..........and as far as multitasking, its not that difficult when the answer to every problem is "let the government take over"......
yeah, hopefully afghanistan keeps the ONE occupied for a little while as the red and blue armies cool down and wait for the number one AGITATOR's return.......this is gonna get ugly people........have a nice day
Gosh, Michael, didn't you hear? Bush was voted out in 2008.
Now this looks like "Change we can believe in!"
This hopie changie thing is working out just fine.
Good job Mr. Prez !!! God bless you and protect you from the sick and racist right wings ... OBAMA 2012!!!!!!
Thank you Oprah and Iowa for a good President!
This is another reason I LOVE PRESIDENT OBAMA. He is the best President American has ever had.
I am amazed at how ignorant some people are and the comments they post here. I am a supporter of our President and a proud American citizen. It is shameful how some people spew hate. It looks like much of what has been taught at some of the racist, separatist and supremacy lessons that have been taught at the dinner tables across America are rearing their ugly heads. People, we must start thinking for ourselves and listen to that voice deep inside of our heads that tells us what's right and to love thy neighbor. Living with so much hate is no way to live.... that has to be a sad and depressing life. That's alot of weight to carry around. President Obama is one of America's greatest assets. He is undoing some serious damage that we have incurred. I voted for him not because of his race, his age nor sex but because I truly believe that he was the person's to help lead our nation back to it's rightful place of greatness. The evidence is right before your eyes.People take off those blinders of hate and see what's truly happening. Great job Mr.President. I salute you!
Sniffit – maybe some day you will publish something that is correct.
CHIPS – thanks for that! I couldn't have put it any better.
That's how ya do it Presidential style. Obama has made Healthcare seem so last month, and now the Repugnants and Palin are going to spend the week whipping jet fuel vapors out of their eyes.
For those who are snarking the President of The United States its just because he's black and works for the people of this country.
For palin supporters ,ya'll need to inform your mother to stop point and shaking her fingure when someone disagrees with her.
Saran Palin .. shaking her finger .. Young man if you want to stick around and learn something... Great Out takes! For any yr for any Dems to run against any Republican she backs . Means, selfish, over bearing, critical parent!
Texas Jack ... Please Secede from the Union put pay back all the Federal Dollars that we as Americans gave and loaned to ya!
Obama is a Multitasking machine and he gets things moving and done!
Yes, Pres O will still be in office in 2012 ,why because those Americans who vote ,will be voting their pocket books and not a cult 1/5 quitter Gov. Let me remind everyone . Americans hates Quitters!
Coffee Party – I agree that the Republicans are trying to divide our country. I just put that in another post. I just don't know why. If we're destroyed in the process, what do they think they're going to win.
And as far as this post goes, thank you Mr. President. Our troops need all the support they can get right now. Let's get this done so you can bring them home safely, and soon.