German Chancellor Merkel makes surprise trip to Afghanistan

German Chancellor Angela Merkel made a surprise trip to Afghanistan on Saturday to visit German troops and meet with President Hamid Karzai, a government spokesman in Berlin said. Merkel flew to the German base in Termez, Uzbekistan, near the border with Afghanistan and changed planes for the trip to Kabul, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. It was her first visit. Predecessor Gerhard Schroeder made the trip in 2004. Merkel's trip was not announced ahead of time. Germany has some 3,000 troops serving with an international security force there, and last month Parliament renewed the mission mandate for another year.