President Barack Obama arrived in Afghanistan this morning for a surprise visit on the anniversary of the death of Osama bin Laden.
According to the White House pool report, Obama arrived at Bagram Airbase this morning and took a helicopter to the presidential palace. U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker and Lieutenant General Mike Scaparotti, the deputy commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, greeted Obama as he deplaned from Air Force One.
Pool reporter Josh Gerstein of Politico writes that Obama is at the presidential palace, where he is expected to sign a 10-page strategic partnership with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, pledging U.S. support for Afghanistan for 10 years after NATO combat troops withdraw in 2014.
Reuters reports that the President will designate Afghanistan a non-NATO ally, the first such designation of his presidency.
He is scheduled to deliver an address from Bagram at 7:30 tonight, which is 4 a.m. local time in Kabul. Gerstein reports that the timing of the address — and the midnight signing ceremony with Karzai — was designed to allow Obama to address U.S. audiences, as well as to provide the extra security of darkness.
He will also speak to U.S. troops at the base before his speech.
Here’s a picture of the President deplaning, via PBS NewsHour reporter Christina Bellantoni:
Photo: Via @cbellantoni
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