By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, May 1, 2012 – President Barack Obama arrived in Afghanistan’s capital of Kabul today for a whirlwind visit with Afghan and NATO leaders, White House officials announced.
Air Force One landed at Bagram Airfield east of Kabul, and the president transferred to a waiting helicopter. He will make an address to the American people at 7:30 EDT tonight.
Obama is meeting with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, and the press pool traveling with him reported that the two leaders signed the recently agreed-upon strategic partnership agreement between their governments shortly after Obama’s arrival at the presidential palace.
The agreement charts the long-term relationship between the United States and Afghanistan after 2014. The agreement is meant to reassure Afghans that the United States will continue to support the nation in the decade ahead, officials said. Defense Department officials have said a number of American service members will remain in Afghanistan beyond 2014 to advise and train Afghan soldiers and police.
U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Ryan C. Crocker and Army Lt. Gen. Curtis M. Scaparotti, commander of International Security Assistance Force Joint Command, greeted the president upon his arrival.
The visit coincides with the one-year anniversary of the mission that killed al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden in Pakistan.
According to the pool report, “the timing of the trip was driven by the negotiations over the strategic partnership agreement and by the desire of both presidents to sign the agreement in Afghanistan prior to the NATO summit in Chicago later this month.”
This is Obama’s fourth trip to Afghanistan.