Obama blames bad weather for cancelled Karzai visit

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The Independent US

US President Barack Obama visited Afghanistan yesterday but stayed on a US military base, cancelling a planned trip to Kabul to meet Afghan President Hamid Karzai because of bad weather.

Mr Obama's second visit to Afghanistan as President came as the White House prepares to release a review of the war strategy, in the week beginning December 13, and the day after leaked cables detailed deep US concerns about Mr Karzai's abilities and widespread fraud.

The US President is under pressure to show progress in the increasingly unpopular nine-year-old war, and the visit is a chance for a first-hand assessment.

White House officials emphasised, however, that the main purpose of his journey was to visit the troops around the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.

Mr Obama spoke to Mr Karzai by phone from Bagram Air Base outside the capital after a planned helicopter visit was scrapped. US officials said they had hoped to set up a secure videophone line, but that weather and technical difficulties prevented that.

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