Barack Obama’s campaign aide said that the Democratic presidential candidate (photo, from rue89.com) has arrived in Afghanistan. The Illinois senator flew to Kabul as part of a US congressional team.
He hopes his foreign policy credentials will be boosted by his visit on Saturday, his second on a tour around Europe and the Middle East.
Americans regard John McCain, the Republican candidate, as a better potential commander-in-chief, suggest opinion polls.
After leaving the US on Thursday, Mr Obama stopped first in Kuwait, to visit troops, said Robert Gibbs, a senior aide to the Illinois senator, in a statement.
Barack Obama’s visit is attracting a lot of attention, even among ordinary Afghans, said Al Jazeera’s James Bays, reporting from the capital, Kabul.
“His visit is cloaked in secrecy … during his time here he will meet the Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, although there will be no press conference just an opportunity for the two leaders to speak and pose for photographs.”
If elected president, when Mr Obama takes office in January 2009, the Afghan elections will be one of his top priorities, said James Bays, because Mr Karzai will also be facing elections in the next year.
“Afghanistan is one of Barack Obama’s top priorities … his key note speech on foreign affairs and he spoke for much of that speech about Afghanistan.”
The central front
“He said he was going to withdraw troops from Iraq in his first year in office, and he was going to send two extra combat brigades to Afghanistan, an extra $1bn each year for this country.”
Afghanistan is the central front in the so-called “war on terror”, said the Democratic candidate, who is expected to call for more US action to rout the Taliban and al-Qaeda.
But when he was asked what message he would convey to Afghan and Iraqi leaders, Barack Obama said: “I’m more interested in listening than doing a lot of talking.”
Before leaving, he added : “I’m going over there as a US senator. We have one president at a time, so it’s the president’s job to deliver those messages.”
In order to find out about their concerns, Barack Obama also said that he would talk to commanders both in Afghanistan and Iraq.
On his tour ahead of the November election, Barack Obama is also expected to visit Iraq, where Gordon Brown, the British prime minister, is in a suprise visit. On Saturday, he arrived in Baghdad, the Iraqi capital.
Mr Obama is also expected to visit Jordan, Israel, Germany, France and Britain.