Obama Makes Surprise Trip to Afghanistan

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samplePresident Barack Obama on Friday made a surprise trip to Afghanistan to meet with troops, traveling to the war-torn country just months after the largest release of secret war documents, according to White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs.

The White House said rough weather forced the president to abruptly scrap his plans to meet Afghan President Hamid Karzai in Kabul. The White House determined the wind, dust and cloud cover made it unsafe for the president to fly by helicopter from the huge military complex here to the presidential palace.

Mr. Gibbs said in a Twitter message: "Good morning.. President Obama just landed at Bagram AFB in Afghanistan.. windy and cold here and about 9 pm here."

Under intense security, Mr. Obama landed in darkness after a clandestine departure from the White House on Thursday, where plans of his trip into the war zone were tightly guarded, the AP reported.

Mr. Obama was to personally thank U.S. troops for their service during the holidays.

Mr. Obama instead will have a secure video conference with President Karzai from Bagram Air Field and won't go to Kabul, where he was to have had a working dinner with the Afghan leader.

In total, Mr. Obama was to spend three hours on the ground in Afghanistan, about half the time he had scheduled.

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  • U.S. Sees Greater North Korea Threat
    في World

    sampleThe IAEA already is investigating evidence that North Korea transferred a nearly operational nuclear reactor to Syria, which Israeli jets subsequently destroyed in 2007. U.S. and U.N. officials now worry Pyongyang could begin exporting its advanced centrifuge equipment to its military allies in Iran and Myanmar.

    "A uranium enrichment capability in [North Korea] could bolster its pursuit of a weapons capability and increases our concerns about prospects for onward proliferation of fissile material and of sensitive technologies," Glyn Davies, the U.S. ambassador to the IAEA, told the agency's 35-member board Thursday.

    Mr. Davies said the U.S. believes Pyongyang may have already developed uranium-enrichment facilities beyond the one site it showed a visiting American scientist, Siegried Hecker, last month.

    These additional facilities would allow North Korea to significantly increase its numbers of atomic weapons, as well as their yield.

    "It is likely that North Korea had been pursuing an enrichment capability long before the April 2009 date it now claims," Mr. Davies said. "If so, there is a clear likelihood that DPRK has built other uranium enrichment-related facilities in its territory."

    Since North Korea made public its uranium-enrichment capability last month, the Obama administration has struggled to formulate a new policy toward leader Kim Jong Il's government. This has been compounded by the North Korean attack on a South Korean island on Nov. 23, which dramatically heightened tensions in Northeast Asia.

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