KABUL — US President Barack Obama made a surprise visit to Afghanistan on Sunday for a firsthand look at the 8-year-old war he inherited from his predecessor, former US president George W. Bush.
After an overnight flight from Washington, the US president landed in Afghanistan for a stay of just a few hours, all in darkness. He flew by helicopter from Bagram Air Field to the capital of Kabul, where he was greeted at the presidential palace by Afghan leader Hamid Karzai, given just an hour's notice of Obama arrival. A military honor guard stood at attention as Obama walked across red carpets.
It was Obama's second stop in a war zone as commander in chief, coming about a year after a similarly secretive trip to Iraq.
The Afghanistan trip was intended to enable Obama to tell Karzai that he must crack down on corruption and cut the flow of money from poppy production and drug trafficking that is sustaining the insurgency. The US also wants Karzai to halt cronyism and rewards for warlords in government hiring and to create an effective, credible judicial system.