Saturday, July 19, 2008


Obama makes first trip to Afghanistan

Story Highlights
Sen. Barack Obama arrives in Afghanistan for first stop of global tour
Obama's visit comes as U.S. officials want to send more troops to region
Obama also expected to visit several countries in Middle East, Europe

KABUL, Afghanistan (CNN) -- Sen. Barack Obama arrived Saturday in Afghanistan on the first stop of his tour of the Middle East and Europe, aimed at boosting the U.S. Democratic presidential hopeful's foreign policy credentials, his campaign confirmed.
The U.S. senator from Illinois also plans to visit Iraq, although details of the trip have have not been made public for security reasons.
Obama spoke briefly to a pool reporter about his trip just before leaving Washington.
"I'm looking forward to seeing what the situation on the ground is," Obama said. "I want to, obviously, talk to the commanders and get a sense, both in Afghanistan and in Baghdad of, you know, what the most, their biggest concerns are. And I want to thank our troops for the heroic work that they've been doing."
Asked if he would have tough talk for the leaders of Afghanistan and Iraq, Obama said he was "more interested in listening than doing a lot of talking."
"I think it is very important to recognize that I'm going over there as a U.S. senator. We have one president at a time, so it's the president's job to deliver those messages," Obama said.
Watch Obama's foreign policy adviser discuss overseas trip »
The fight in Afghanistan has become a more pressing issue on the political radar. Three times as many coalition soldiers and other military personnel have died in July in Afghanistan than in Iraq.
On Sunday, nine U.S. soldiers were killed in a fight with about 200 Taliban militants in eastern Afghanistan. It was the deadliest attack on U.S. troops in Afghanistan in three years.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Wednesday that U.S. officials are looking for ways to send more troops to
Afghanistan, amid the resurgence of violence nearly seven years after the ousting of the Taliban government.
Gates said the hope is to send additional forces "sooner rather than later."

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