Obama Hits on Corruption, Military Issues in Surprise Afghan Trip

BY Larisa Epatko  March 28, 2010 at 2:08 PM EST

President Barack Obama on Sunday made an unannounced visit to Afghanistan — the first of his presidency — to discuss anti-corruption measures in the Karzai government and visit with U.S. military leaders and troops.

During his visit to the capital Kabul, which lasted only hours, President Obama met with President Hamid Karzai and Cabinet officials, emphasizing the importance of good governance.

“Progress will continue to be made, but we also want to make progress on the civilian front,” he said, reported the Associated Press.

Improved electricity was a sign of progress in the country, but improvements also are needed in anti-corruption efforts and adherence to the rule of law, he said.

“All of these things end up resulting in an Afghanistan that is more prosperous and more secure,” he added.

Karzai promised that Afghanistan “would move forward into the future” and eventually take over its own security.

Also announced during the trip, which was kept under wraps for security reasons: President Karzai will visit Washington, D.C., on May 12, according to White House spokesman Robert Gibbs’ Twitter feed.

President Obama also met with military leaders and troops at Bagram Air Base during his brief visit. The president ordered 30,000 more troops in December to fight a growing Taliban insurgency, and by summer about 100,000 U.S. troops are expected to be in place.

Last month, U.S. forces overtook the Taliban stronghold of Marjah in southern Helmand Province. The next major U.S. and NATO operation is planned for Kandahar, the spiritual home of the Taliban.