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White House / WHITE HOUSE

Biden Makes Surprise Trip to Afghanistan

Likely 2012 presidential candidate Mitt Romney is also in the country.

Vice President Biden recently landed in Afghanistan for his first trip to the country as vice president.(Richard A. Bloom)

photo of Rebecca Kaplan
January 10, 2011

Updated at 11:43 a.m. on January 10.

The White House announced that Vice President Joe Biden has landed in Afghanistan.

It's Biden's first trip to the country as vice president. 

 

According to the White House press office, the trip's purpose is to “assess progress toward the transition to Afghan-led security beginning this year, and to demonstrate the United States’ commitment to a long-term partnership with Afghanistan.”

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, a likely GOP presidential candidate in 2012, is also in Afghanistan today. He arrived on Sunday and was scheduled to meet with Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Gen. David Petraeus, and he will reportedly meet with Afghans as well to share his thoughts on politics and leadership, according to senior Romney adviser Eric Fehrnstrom. This is his second trip to the region - the first was part of a swing through Kuwait, Iraq, and Afghanistan in 2006.

Biden is scheduled to visit Pakistan this week, where he will meet with Pakistan's top military official, Gen. Ashfaq Kayani, and other government leaders. He is expected to discuss an economic, military, and intelligence aid package for the country. The U.S. may also consider early disbursement of the annual $1.5 billion in financial assistance it lends to Pakistan. In return, Biden will ask for continued support in pursuing Afghan militants based in Pakistan.

Obama took a similar trip to Afghanistan on December 3, 2008, after the election but before he was sworn in, when he landed at Bagram Air Base under the cover of night. While there, he met with wounded soldiers and addressed the troops stationed at the base. Obama was scheduled to fly to Kabul by helicopter to meet with Karzai, but the trip was canceled because of strong winds. The two spoke by videoteleconference instead.

But Biden does plan to meet with Karzai as well as Ambassador Karl Eikenberry and Petraeus, who will give him an update on the ground situation. He will also spend time with the troops at the Afghan National Army Training Center. Biden flew directly to Kabul.

Biden last went to Afghanistan in January 2009 before he was sworn in as vice president. 

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