Obama makes unannounced visit to Afghanistan

Kabul, May 2: US President Barack Obama arrived in Kabul late Tuesday on an unannounced visit to meet his Afghan counterpart Hamid Karzai, reported local media citing Afghan officials.

The US president is expected to sign a strategic partnership agreement with Afghanistan during this trip which coincides with the first anniversary of Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden’s killing by US forces, Xinhua reported.

Osama was killed May 2, 2011 by US commandos who stormed his hideout in Pakistan’s Abbottabad city.

Obama’s visit to Afghanistan has come a week after the Afghan and US governments finalised the US-Afghan strategic pact’s draft.

The agreement, which would pave the way for a long-term US military presence in Afghanistan after the withdrawal of the NATO-led coalition force from the war-torn country by 2014, has been welcomed by local analysts as a security stabilising factor in Afghanistan.

At present, there are over 90,000 US troops in Afghanistan and the US is expected to draw down that number to 65,000 by the end of 2012 and to less than 20,000 by the end of 2014.

Before drafting the pact, the Afghan government had previously signed two key deals with the US.

These deals oblige the US military to hand over charge of the Bagram detention centre to Afghan administration and allow Afghan security forces to lead special operations including the controversial night raids.

IANS