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

BREAKING: Obama makes surprise trip to Afghanistan


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. Bed time for Raygun

    Hes doing a good job.Hey Jack, in Austin, are you sure your last name isnt Off?hahaha

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

    @Rick McDaniel March 28th, 2010 12:12 pm ET

    He just likes to travel, on the public's nickle.
    Better then running the white house from Ranch for 8 years.

    Bush had cow dung on the brain.

    March 28, 2010 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  3. Anonymous

    why is it that all the comments on here supporting obama have about 10 misspelled words?? Coincidence? I think not...

    March 28, 2010 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  4. Dulcie - Denver

    President Obama is unstoppable! While I worry that violence will break out this summer with all the heated rhetoric flying around, I am confident that this administration will prevail. Our president has proved himself level-headed and keeps his eye on the ball.

    March 28, 2010 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  5. JC Aguiar

    Well done Mr President

    March 28, 2010 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  6. CHIPS

    @Rick McDaniel March 28th, 2010 12:12 pm ET

    He just likes to travel, on the public's nickle.
    Better then running the white house from the Ranch for 8 years.

    Bush had cow dung on the brain.

    March 28, 2010 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  7. Mike, Youngstown

    It looks like somebody finally had a "Let Bartlet be Bartlet" talk with President Obama. I think year two is going to be quite a bit busier than year one.

    March 28, 2010 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  8. wkndthg

    Mr. President, continue to consult your staff and make decisions for the good of the country and not the good of any party. Your trip to Afghanistan was on point.

    March 28, 2010 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  9. terry,va.

    After spitting on Netanyahu, he is flying over to fire Karzai. After all he said he wanted to be the world's president. There is only one problem with that. Leaders from Russia, China and yes Iran, has him bent over when it comes to world politics. Obummie continues to play into their hands.

    March 28, 2010 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  10. vic nashviile tn

    Republicans will say “we didn’t approve him to go there so this is also against the Americans wish”

    Dear republicans past one week everything going on Obama’s way Americans like it so swallow it

    March 28, 2010 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  11. The Calabash Kid

    michael wrote: "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."

    You racists usually make your remarks with a little more care, Michael, so that your real motives can be suspected but not confirmed. Like when Southern Conservatives were arguing against Medicare ( which would result in integrated hospitals), they argued for "states' rights" instead of just saying that they didn't want Black people in formerly all White hospitals.

    Now you come right out and refer to a "teleprompter reading monkey" as an image for Obama. Comparing apes and Black people has a long history in racist rhetoric, going back at least four centuries.

    You need to re-think your racial attitudes. Obama is Harvard educated, very smart, a Nobel Prize winner, good-looking, in great physical condition, and has been very successful in everything he has done. How does that compare with your own accomplishments? How can you look down on him because he is half Black and imagine that you are better than him? Give that some thought. Your problems are between your ears, not in the White House.

    There's nothing wrong with White people of course. I'm one myself. I voted for Obama's White half.

    March 28, 2010 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  12. Octo mom

    And you didn't let the Republicans know?

    Oh well, I guess this is no different than a parent having to sneak out of the house so the babies won't run after them raising a hissy fit.

    March 28, 2010 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  13. rachel

    Seems right good for him. Hillary went last year for Karzai's inagurration and to get him on track.

    March 28, 2010 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  14. Save America, impeach the treasonous republicans

    The tea partiers remind me of the effect that an angry mob has. In Sunday school, I learned of another mob that was out of control, and in their frenzy, chose to spare Barabbas the criminal over Jesus, thus condemning Jesus to death. Angry mobs do not always make the best choices.

    I would hope that the leadership of the GOP would really condemn this hate that the right has for our president.

    March 28, 2010 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  15. Grandpa Vern

    Grab your rain slickers. There will be plenty of teabagger spit flying

    March 28, 2010 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  16. Fitz in Texas

    There goes Obama again....spending the hard working tax payers money and leaving his carbon footprint on the earth. Really, if he doesn't let those engines cool down on AirForce1 we the hard working taxpayer will be footing the bill for another plan.

    March 28, 2010 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  17. David Independent from Arizona

    We need to get out and vote for the people and the party who is actually doing something to try to fix the Problems of this country, not just baby cry about them with slogans and brain washing.

    I am an Independent and have been supporting President Obama through out the highs and the lows. Now that the house and senate Democrats have man up and did what was right, it is time to support those people that stood with the American people. ANd it is time to vote out who stood with the Big Corporate like Big Insurance; that's including the Do Nothing, Obstructionist Republicans and Democrats who really are Republicans.

    Vote People, we got to vote to Continue to see Positive Change towards our beat up Middle Class. Don't Reward incompetence by the Republicans; lets Reward solvence!! Go President OBAMA and just PUSH on thourgh and Ram over whoever does not want to HELP!!!!

    March 28, 2010 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  18. Don't ask, but I'll tell ya anyway

    Anything for a photo-op!

    March 28, 2010 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  19. Save America, impeach the treasonous republicans

    In Texas, ". . .a man like him . . ." must mean a non white? The real fools were the minority of Americans that voted for Bush in 2000.

    March 28, 2010 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  20. Georgian

    We should let Texas leave the Union since they are still living in the past.

    March 28, 2010 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  21. 2 Terms for Obama

    When someone is hating on your actions, that means you're doing your job.....I love it...if President Obama keeps this up, I can see him serving two terms.

    For those such as Willy Brown wanting our President to stay there, please take a loong walk off of a short cliff.

    @ Michael, no one asked your mother to go to Afghanistan, so you're right the troops don't need any teleprompter-reading monkeys to win this battle.

    March 28, 2010 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  22. Turnabout is Fair Play

    y Brown March 28th, 2010 12:02 pm ET

    Please stay there

    Better yet, why don't YOU go there...butt naked...with a "I hate Mohammed" message painted on your chest..make sure YOU don't come back.

    March 28, 2010 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  23. Darrell

    Leadership in Action! For those Obama haters, you are witnessing a leader who blieves in the troops, the mission and the USA's standing in the world.

    March 28, 2010 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  24. carlos

    as a Viet Nam Veteran, I stand at attention and salute you Mr. President, the REAL Commander In Chief........thank you

    March 28, 2010 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  25. LoveThyNeighbor

    OK,...I guess we'll start hearing all the angry mobs complaining about the use of tax payer money for the trip. What a waste of time to make THAT statement. The American Presidents have ALWAYS traveled the world promoting US. Resounding on that is a step backwards. Do people really think that the President (or Vice President) should go and "hole-up" somewhere in an "undisclosed" location for their entire term? Ol' yea, I forgot. Chaney did it! Ha, what a joke THAT was!

    March 28, 2010 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
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