March 28th, 2010
11:55 AM ET
12 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. Joan

    The Republican leaders must just be in a tizzy right now. They can't keep up with this man on so many levels. He is so intelligent, thinks about the common people, is a man of his word, can handle so many critical issues at one time, is a great family man, is a great role model, is extremely well thought of around the world and in a little over one year has solved so many problems and is on the verge of solving more. What more could an electorate want? Keep up the good work Mr. President.

    March 28, 2010 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  2. A Thankful Voter Who Supports Our President

    God speed, Mr. President. Our country awaits your safe return.

    March 28, 2010 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  3. mary

    Good job, Mr President !

    March 28, 2010 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  4. Patsy, Texas

    Let's get this straight:

    So, President Bush flies into Iraq, in the dark, under secrecy, and struts
    around our troops carrying a FAKE TURKEY!!

    President Obama flies into Afghanistan, on AIR FORCE ONE, in the
    daylight, meets with President Karzai, has a troop review, then TALKS
    TURKEY with this guy.

    Get the difference Texas Jerk?????

    March 28, 2010 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  5. Glen

    Leadership at home and abroad from our President.

    This is what Presidential leadership looks like without all the ignorant sniping.

    Go Obama!

    March 28, 2010 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  6. anthony California

    This president is doing a great job health care and taking out more terrorists than the bush administration did for 8 years. I feel like he cares about us the American people. He is the one who is keeping us safe and for the GOP don't you think we need to be safe and healthy? For those who want to yell out socialism Please people read your history books and if you receive Medicare,SSI,SSD AFDC etc and you want to complain about socialism return your benefits please.

    March 28, 2010 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  7. FM

    Hey Repubs are you going to repeal this trip? as everything the President does you echo to repeal it.

    March 28, 2010 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  8. Mike, formerly from Syracuse

    Well said Texas Jack, but I'm not sure we will survive 3 more years of Obama.

    March 28, 2010 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  9. Jenn, Philadelphia

    Did jobs get created in the last year? Did the economy improve in the last year? Did anything get done other than debating and forcing through healthcare "reform" in the last year? Sorry, CHIPS, but you're wrong. This guy does not know how to multi-task. It seems he wants to be anywhere but in Washington DC. Monday he goes to Maine, Tuesday he goes to North Carolina, both times to sell a plan that is already law. Stay in Washington Mr. President. During the campaign you promised to fix the economy. You can't do that traveling all over the world.

    March 28, 2010 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  10. thax Mr.axelrod for telling it the way it is


    March 28, 2010 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  11. b in FL

    This is great. We have the hardest working President I've ever seen in my 50 years of life.,...GO PRESIDENT OBAMA!! You'll win this war and bring all of our troops home like you promised.

    March 28, 2010 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  12. Ken in NC

    Considering that he has been office about 14 months, had stuff piled on his plate from the start, got Republicans doing their best to throw up road blocks in front of everything this President is trying to do, I think the President has done a pretty good job. He seems to always do well when he takes the reigns and runs the show himself. It's when he delegates authority to others that he runs into brick walls.

    He's doing just fine when you consider all Republicans are doing to grind our government to a halt simply because they cannot have it their way. I wish someone would tell them this is not Burger King. They can work with him if they so choose but this is not going to be a Republican Way or No Way.

    March 28, 2010 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  13. JES

    Again if you can't get it done thru thr front door go in the back door.

    This seems the only Obama can get things done I woder why. That's right the people don"t want it.

    Our government is no longer by the people for the people it's by the government by the government.

    When will the voters wake up and vote everyone out of office and start new with people that care about our agenda not their's.

    March 28, 2010 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  14. Tracy-Oakley

    I'm greatful that Obama has gone to Afghanistan to show his support to the troops & their efforts..

    March 28, 2010 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  15. Nicey

    As long as the haters are miserable....I am HAPPY!! GO BARACK!!

    March 28, 2010 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
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