Obama Visits Afghanistan Ahead of bin Laden Death Anniversary (Update: Video)
After a trip to Afghanistan cloaked in secrecy, President Barack Obama on Tuesday signed a “strategic partnership agreement” with Hamid Karzai that promises continuing U.S. support for the Afghan president’s nation. The unannounced visit came as Americans and others marked the first anniversary of the killing of 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden, shot during a raid by U.S. special forces.
The agreement, intended by the Obama administration to symbolically mark the beginning of the end of the decade-long war in Afghanistan, details the proposed relationship between the two countries over the next 10 years. –TEB
The New York Times:
It is intended to be a road map for two nations lashed together by more than a decade of war and groping for a new relationship after the departure of American troops, scheduled for the end of 2014.
Mr. Obama was scheduled to address the American people from Afghanistan on Tuesday evening, which would be the middle of the night in Afghanistan. The address – on the first anniversary of the American raid that killed Osama bin Laden in neighboring Pakistan – will give Mr. Obama a new opportunity to make an election-year case that he has wound down two expensive and now unpopular wars, here and in Iraq.
The agreement with Kabul, completed after months of fraught negotiations, pledges American aid for Afghanistan for 10 years after the withdrawal of the last American soldiers. More symbolic than substantive, it nevertheless marks a transition for the United States, from the largest foreign military force in Afghanistan to a staunch, if faraway and complicated, ally.
The agreement and Mr. Obama’s decision to travel to Kabul to sign it are also meant to reassure Afghans that the United States will not abandon them once the soldiers leave, White House aides said.