Date
12 December 2017
Obama addresses US troops at the Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan on Sunday. Photo: Reuters
Obama addresses US troops at the Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan on Sunday. Photo: Reuters

Obama makes surprise visit to troops in Afghanistan

President Barack Obama made a surprise trip to Afghanistan during the Memorial Day weekend to visit US forces who are preparing to wrap up a 13-year mission in the country.

Cheers erupted among the troops gathered at the Bagram Air Base when Obama said on Sunday that at the end of this year, “America’s war in Afghanistan will come to a responsible end”, Reuters reported.

But the US leader signaled that he intends to keep a small number of troops in the country for training and counter-terrorism operations, the report said.

Obama did not meet Afghan government officials nor travel to the capital Kabul, as the Asian nation was immersed in a runoff election to choose a successor to President Hamid Karzai.

Karzai has long been out of favor with Washington over his refusal to sign a bilateral security agreement to allow US troops to stay beyond 2014.

Obama administration officials told Reuters last month that the number of American troops in Afghanistan may drop well below 10,000 beyond 2014, the minimum demanded by the US military to train Afghan forces.

There are now about 33,000 US troops in Afghanistan, down from 100,000 in 2011, when troop numbers peaked a decade after the September 11 attacks in the US.

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RA/RC

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