Obama Makes Surprise Visit to Afghanistan

BBC – President Barack Obama has told US troops in Afghanistan that America’s longest war will come to “a responsible end” at the end of 2014.

Mr Obama was cheered by soldiers during the unannounced visit to Bagram Airfield outside Kabul.

It comes on the eve of Memorial Day, when Americans commemorate troops who have died in service.

Foreign combat troops are due to withdraw from the country by the end of the year.

The US is seeking to keep a small number of troops there to train Afghan security forces. But that plan depends on the next Afghan president – due to be elected next month – signing a bilateral security agreement that incumbent Afghan President Hamid Karzai has refused to authorise.

President Obama had invited his Afghan counterpart to the base but Mr Karzai refused, saying he would only meet Mr Obama at his palace in Kabul, officials said.

Instead, Mr Obama called the Afghan leader from Air Force One on his way back to the US, officials said, saying he would be in touch before announcing any decision on the planned US troop presence after 2014.

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