Obama lands in Afghanistan on surprise visit to U.S. troops

Obama lands in Afghanistan on surprise visit to U.S. troops

U.S. President Barack Obama traveled to Afghanistan on Sunday for a surprise Memorial Day weekend visit to meet with U.S. troops who are preparing to withdraw after nearly 13 years of war, Reuters reported.

Spirited out of Washington aboard Air Force One, Obama flew for more than 13 hours for the brief visit to Bagram Air Base, the main U.S. base in the country.

The trip comes as Obama is buffeted by criticism at home that his handling of U.S. foreign policy has been too passive in dealing with crises from Syria to Ukraine and Russia.

He is to respond to the criticism in a speech on Wednesday at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. His Afghan visit is bound to be seen by some critics as an attempt to redeem himself in the eyes of military veterans who are alarmed at allegations that government-run medical facilities in the United States have not provided timely care for veterans.

Obama, making his fourth trip to Afghanistan, was to be briefed by Army General Joseph Dunford, who heads U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, and U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan James Cunningham, as he nears a decision on how many U.S. troops to leave behind after most are gone by year's end.

During a visit scheduled to last just a few hours, Obama was also set to speak to the troops and go to the base hospital to see wounded soldiers.

Obama had no plans to visit the Afghan capital Kabul nor would he meet Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai or other government officials. This allows him to avoid getting immersed in the country's presidential election campaign to choose a successor to Karzai, who has long been out of favor in Washington.

Obama's deputy national security adviser, Ben Rhodes, said Karzai was to have been informed about the Obama visit shortly before his arrival.

Karzai has irked Obama by refusing to sign a bilateral security agreement that Washington wants before it will agree to leave a contingent of U.S. troops behind in Afghanistan for training Afghan forces and counter-terrorism operations, after the formal U.S. troop drawdown at the end of the year.

The number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan may drop well below 10,000 - the minimum demanded by the U.S. military to train Afghan forces, Obama administration officials briefed on the matter say.

There are now about 33,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan, down from 100,000 in 2011, when troop numbers peaked a decade into a conflict in which more than 2,100 Americans have been killed.

Obama, who left Washington under cover of darkness on Saturday night and arrived at Bagram on Sunday night local time, brought with him country music star Brad Paisley to provide entertainment for the troops. The president and the West Virginia-born singer spent some time chatting on the flight.

Data on cargo shipment through Turkish Kocaeli port over 1Q2021 revealed
Data on cargo shipment through Turkish Kocaeli port over 1Q2021 revealed
Cargo movements in Iran’s Shahid Rajaee port increase
Cargo movements in Iran’s Shahid Rajaee port increase
Iran to inaugurate new airport in Kurdistan Province
Iran to inaugurate new airport in Kurdistan Province
Loading Bars
Latest
Forum in New Zealand focuses on New Zealand-China economic cooperation, development opportunities
WHO head claims as global COVID cases drop to 630,000 per day
US Department of Energy retains forecast for Brent oil price at $62.3 per barrel in 2021
Samsung sees pandemic-led appliances boom extending run to rest of year
Next meeting on electoral reform to be held on May 14-16
Central Bank of Azerbaijan allocates funds to support financial literacy
Turkish State Mine Administration opens tender for rental of vehicles
Lending to electricity sector in Azerbaijan increases
Kazakh KazMunayTeniz to buy diesel fuel via tender
Iran's Petropars Company orders equipment from local manufacturers
Turkey reports over 14 400 COVID-19 cases
Some of children may be taken to Moscow for treatment after school shooting in Kazan
UN chief condemns Kazan school shooting
Gaza block collapses after Israeli strike, rocket hits Tel Aviv building
Kazakhstan supports solution of Palestinian-Israel conflict by peaceful means
Georgia likely to receive Novavax and Johnson & Johnson vaccines in July
Kazakhstan’s liquids production down in March - OPEC
COVID-19 cases decrease in 80 provinces in a week
Iran, Afghanistan discuss Afghan peace process
Israeli PM says to increase strikes against Gaza militants
Arab FMs kick off emergency meeting on Jerusalem tensions
Hamas and Israel step up attacks as Jerusalem unrest ignites Gaza
No need to evacuate people injured in Kazan school shooting to Moscow
Сompetition season of 2021 successfully started - European Gymnastics President
Identification of victims in Kazan school shooting completed
26 COVID-19 patients dead allegedly due to oxygen shortage in India's Goa
Japan's COVID-19 patients in "serious condition" hit fresh record high
Azerbaijani president, first lady express condolences to president of Tatarstan
President Aliyev expresses condolences to Russian counterpart
Iran's Energy Exchange announces products to be on sale on May 12
Bahar Azadi gold coin price continues to rise in Iran
Foreign investors waiting for decision related to FATF in Iran – official
Azerbaijani journalists view State Border Service's Military Hospital in liberated Gubadly (PHOTO)
Demand for OPEC crude in 2021 revised up
Turkish export of electrical goods to Azerbaijan drops
Shares of Kazakhstan's KAZ Minerals delisted from stock exchange
Export Development Bank of Iran to provide loans to startup companies
Data on cargo shipment through Turkish Kocaeli port over 1Q2021 revealed
Kazakhstan reports increase in new housing prices
Azerbaijan's ADIF continues compensating depositors of closed banks
Turkey sees increase in cement exports to Georgia
Cargo movements in Iran’s Shahid Rajaee port increase
OPEC marks increase in Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil exports
Guaranteed wheat purchasing from farmers in Iran continues
Iran to inaugurate new airport in Kurdistan Province
Iran to build new factory at Amirabad port
OPEC revises up forecasts for Azerbaijan’s liquids supplies in 2021
Azerbaijan reveals number of vaccinated citizens for May 11
Azerbaijan confirms 514 more COVID-19 cases, 1,306 recoveries
Iran reveals COVID-19 data for May 11
Iran’s PMO unveils volume of cargo transportation via Abadan Port
Iran shares unemployment data
Georgia export to Germany increased by 40%
Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan eye accelerating implementation of roadmap for industrial co-op
FDA to attract funds to support reforms in Uzbekistan
Uzbek-Chinese JV opens tender for spares for gas pumping units
Iran starts mass production of coronavirus vaccine
Russia boosts steel imports from Turkey
Volume of cargo shipment via Turkish Karabiga port in 1Q2021 revealed
Renewables to account for 90% of total global power capacity increases in 2021-2022
Annual renewable capacity additions reach highest level since 1999
Oil dips as pipeline outage fears ease, India weighs
First batch of Sputnik V vaccine arrived in Azerbaijan just a few days ago, more significant shipments expected later this month - Russian FM
Statements reeking of revanchism, are very dangerous, first of all for Armenian side - President Aliyev
Restriction on movement likely to ease in late May in Georgia
Since end of hostilities, we transferred all prisoners of war - President Aliyev
Azerbaijan shows goodwill in matters related to humanitarian issues - President Aliyev
Post-conflict situation, of course, dictates need for closer contacts at all levels - President Aliyev
Heroization of Nazism in all its forms - unacceptable - Azerbaijan FM
Gaza escalation weighs on shekel
Issue of unblocking transport in region must be prioritized - Azerbaijani FM
Humanitarian issues must be resolved as quickly as possible - Russian FM
Russian FM notes key factor in normalizing situation in Karabakh
Russia highly appreciates work of trilateral group of deputy prime ministers of three countries - Russian FM
Azerbaijan committed to fulfilling its obligations under trilateral agreement - Azerbaijani FM
Nine killed in Kazan school shooting
Second batch of Sputnik V vaccine to be delivered to Azerbaijan by late May - Russian FM
FMs of Azerbaijan, Russia sign plan of consultations for 2021-2022 (PHOTO)
Azerbaijan condemns all terror acts - Azerbaijani FM
Uzbekistan reveals number of vaccinated people
Uzbekistan considers attracting French companies to partake in state assets privatization
Uzbekistan signs memorandum of understanding with French Rothschild & Cie
Uzbekistan reveals numbers of companies with dominant position in market
Uzbekistan taking measures to improve availability of public services
Iran and India trade declines due to COVID-19
Azerbaijani president congratulates Azerbaijani people on Ramadan holiday
Armenian railways are owned by Russian railways, therefore, we are discussing issue mainly with Russian side - President Aliyev
Indian Army sets up 100-bedded hospitals in Faridabad, Chandigarh, Patiala
Indian FY22 growth may slip to 8.2%: Crisil
Twitter Donates $15 Million For COVID-19 Relief In India
President Ilham Aliyev criticizes statements of Canada's, France's MFAs: Let them mind their own business
Startups fight COVID-19: How healthtech startup Meddo is helping tackle the hospital bed crisis
Outpouring of support from US for India, Covid-19 help touches USD half a billion
Zangazur corridor must and will be opened - President Aliyev
PFPA-Musavat duo mobilized all their resources to overthrow Heydar Aliyev in Nakhchivan - President Aliyev
This visit to Nakhchivan has great symbolic meaning - President Aliyev
President Aliyev warns revanchists in Armenia: They shouldn’t play with fire
Military equipment available to Nakhchivan Army today probably superior to equipment of some advanced countries - President Aliyev
Russian FM visits tomb of National Leader Heydar Aliyev
There is no territorial unit called Nagorno-Karabakh in Azerbaijan - President Aliyev
All news