Bush arrives in Kabul for talks with Karzai | world | Hindustan Times
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Bush arrives in Kabul for talks with Karzai

world Updated: Dec 15, 2008 09:20 IST

AFP
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US President George W Bush, making a surprise visit to Afghanistan, met his Afghan counterpart Hamid Karzai for talks on Monday in the capital Kabul.

The US leader had arrived before dawn at Bagram Air Base near Kabul after a secret trip to Iraq, his final visit before he hands the White House keys to his successor Barack Obama on January 20.

"I and the Afghan people are very proud and honoured," Karzai said as he welcomed Bush.

He said he had been trying to get the US president to come to Kabul "for a long, long time" and had sent "repeated messages" inviting him.

"I am glad the president is visiting Afghanistan," Karzai added. "I wish he had more time."

Bush said earlier en route here that he wanted to thank Karzai and "let the people of Afghanistan know that the United States has stood with them and will stand with them."

International soldiers have been battling increasing insurgent violence in Afghanistan since a US-led coalition toppled the hardline Taliban regime in late 2001.

Although there are currently some 70,000 foreign troops in Kabul, General David McKiernan, the top commander in Afghanistan, has asked for more than 20,000 extra US soldiers to counter rising violence, which would push US levels past 50,000 troops.