In his first trip to Afghanistan as Commander-in-Chief, President Obama made a surprise visit to Kabul Sunday, March 28 where he met with President Karzai and others and also paid a visit to US forces stationed at Bagram Air Force Base. The visit was very positive and reaffirmed mutual commitments to the long-term partnership between Afghanistan and the United States.
During a joint press briefing, President Karzai extended the appreciation of Afghan people “for the help that America has given us in the past eight years, for the assistance given.” He further stressed his determination for Afghan progress “into the future towards a stable, strong, peaceful Afghanistan that can sustain itself, that can move forward into the future with confidence and better hopes.”
President Obama reiterated the continuation of support to and cooperation with the Afghan government by the United States to tackle many important issues in the country. He pointed to the visible progress made since his last trip in 2008, and highlighted the increase in electricity production in Kabul as one example. He cited progress already made “with respect to the military campaign against extremism in the region” stressing his country’s commitment to provide further assistance in agriculture, energy, rule of law and good governance. “All these things end up resulting in Afghanistan that is more prosperous, more secure, independent” President Obama said.
President Obama extended an invitation to President Karzai to visit Washington DC in May. “All of us,” he said, “are interested in a day when Afghanistan is going to be able to provide for its own security but continue a long-term strategic partnership with the United States.”
During his six-hour trip, President Obama also addressed some 2500 US forces at Bagram Air Field. He thanked them for their service and noted that their work was vital “to help Afghans forge a hard-won peace while realizing the extraordinary potential of the Afghan people, Afghanistan’s sons and daughters, from the soldiers and the police to the farmers and the young students.” President Obama also praised the work done by Afghan National Security Forces in ensuring security for Afghan population and building stronger defense capacity. He further emphasized the desire “to build a lasting partnership” with Afghanistan that is “founded upon mutual interests and mutual respect.”