Obama’s Surprise Visit to Afghanistan

On the anniversary of the killing of Osama Bin Laden, President Obama is in Afghanistan where he will sign a new partnership agreement with Afghan President Karzai, according to reports.

The agreement will lay out terms for the U.S.-Afghan relationship after the 2014 deadline for the withdrawal of combat forces. Obama is currently in Kabul and will speak to the nation at 7:30 pm ET from Bagram Air Force Base.

The following is from pool reports by Josh Gerstein of Politico, who is traveling with the president:

Andrews to Bagram Air Base to Kabul

President Barack Obama is in Afghanistan for a whirlwind visit that will culminate in a live, televised address to the American people.

Obama is expected to sign a strategic partnership agreement shortly with Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

Obama’s scheduled to speak to the nation just after 730 PM ET wednesday from Bagram airbase.

Pool, which assembled Monday night at Andrews, has been under an embargo preventing reporting of the trip up til now.

Obama left at 1209 AM Tuesday morning. And arrived at Bagram at 1020 pm local time. He landed via chopper at LZ near presidential palace at just after 11pm local

Amb Ryan crocker and Lieut Gen Mike Scaparotti deputy cddr us forces afghanistan greeted Obama as he deplaned from the lower stairs of AF1 at Bagram.

Obama is currently at the presidential palace in Kabul . . .

Senior Administration officials said the unconventional timing of events on the trip, such as the scheduled midnight local time signing ceremony, was aimed at allowing Obama to address Americans on a schedule convenient for US television audiences. That speech, expected to run about 10 minutes, is scheduled to take place just after 730 pm ET tuesday, which is 4 AM here in Afghanistan.

The trip opens the White House up to new criticism that Obama is exploiting the killing of Osama Bin Laden by using it as a major piece of his reelection campaign.

Vice President Biden has been clear that the White House intends to use the killing for its political benefit, saying last Thursday that “Osama bin Laden is Dead” should be part of a campaign bumper sticker.

The Obama 2012 campaign has released a video celebrating Obama’s decision to take out Bin Laden and suggesting Mitt Romney would not have made the same move.

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Award winning journalist Keith Koffler has 16 years of experience covering Washington. As a reporter for CongressDaily, National Journal magazine, and Roll Call, Keith wrote primarily from the White House, covering three presidents and learning as few have the intricacies of the West Wing and the behavior and motivations of its occupants. While mainly stationed at the White House, he also extensively covered Congress and Washington’s lobbyists. Keith has also written for a variety of other publications, including Politico, The Daily Caller, and The London Observer. He currently writes regular opinion columns for Politico. He blogs at whitehousedossier.com.

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