The U.S. President Barack Obama has made a brief and surprise visit to Bagram air base in Afghanistan, on Sunday, vowed during the visit to take a decision on how many U.S. troops could remain in Afghanistan after withdrawal of NATO forces at the end of this year, while the outgoing Afghan President Hamid Karzai refused to meet Obama at the base.
The news reports said that a member of the U.S. National Security Council expected to announce Obama's decision during a speech delivered on Wednesday in front of the West Point Academy, Pentagon officials said : "The president tends to keep about ten thousand U.S. troops, as the U.S. officials advised "
"We did offer him the opportunity to come to Bagram, but we're not surprised that it didn't work on short notice", a US official said Sunday.
"The President will likely be speaking by phone with President Karzai in the days to come, and also looks forward to working with Afghanistan's next President after the election is complete."
Reports indicated that President Obama stayed about four hours at Bagram air base, 40 kilometers north of the capital, Kabul, and said in front of the soldiers : "After more than a decade of war, we have reached a critical stage and our combat mission will end this year, and Afghanistan will assume responsibility for security "
The news press drew attention that Obama left Afghanistan without meeting with outgoing Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who refused to meet Obama at the base, where Afghan presidency was declared that the government is ready to receive President Obama with open arms in the presidential palace, but it has no intention to go to Bagram, while the U.S. side attributed the reasons for the rejection to the surprise nature of the visit.
Obama and Karzai have a testy relationship and Washington has been deeply frustrated by the outgoing Afghan leader's refusal to sign a bilateral security agreement that would allow it to lock in a post-2014 US troop training mission in the country.