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Biden makes surprise trip to Afghanistan

Vice President Joseph Biden is in Kabul right now to meet with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, in a move that could signal his increased involvement in the issue following last month’s unexpected death of Special Representative Richard Holbrooke. This is Biden’s first trip to Afghanistan since becoming vice president. He has taken the lead within ...

Getty Images
Getty Images
Getty Images

Vice President Joseph Biden is in Kabul right now to meet with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, in a move that could signal his increased involvement in the issue following last month's unexpected death of Special Representative Richard Holbrooke.

This is Biden's first trip to Afghanistan since becoming vice president. He has taken the lead within the administration in dealing with Iraq, and has been credited with assisting Iraqi leaders with the government formation process and the transfer of responsibility away from departing U.S. military forces there.

"The primary purpose of the trip is to assess progress toward the transition to Afghan-led security beginning this year, and to demonstrate the United States' commitment to a long-term partnership with Afghanistan," the White House said in statement.

Vice President Joseph Biden is in Kabul right now to meet with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, in a move that could signal his increased involvement in the issue following last month’s unexpected death of Special Representative Richard Holbrooke.

This is Biden’s first trip to Afghanistan since becoming vice president. He has taken the lead within the administration in dealing with Iraq, and has been credited with assisting Iraqi leaders with the government formation process and the transfer of responsibility away from departing U.S. military forces there.

"The primary purpose of the trip is to assess progress toward the transition to Afghan-led security beginning this year, and to demonstrate the United States’ commitment to a long-term partnership with Afghanistan," the White House said in statement.

Biden’s arrived at about 7:30 p.m. Kabul local time and was greeted at the airport by ISAF commander Gen. David Petraeus, U.S. Ambassador Karl Eikenberry, and three Afghan officials. He will meet with U.S. military and civilian personnel and also will tour an Afghan National Army training center.

The trip was kept secret, due to security concerns, but Karzai was made aware of the visit last week.

Biden first met with Petraeus and Eikenberry for about an hour, to get an "update from them on the situation on the ground," a senior administration official said. Biden is scheduled to have lunch with Karzai during his trip and then both sides will hold a larger meeting with officials from both sides in attendance

Biden, a longtime Philadelphia Eagles fan, watched the Eagles-Packers playoff game from the plane, wearing a black Eagles cap. But the game cut off during the 4th quarter, so Biden was fortunate enough to miss quarterback Michael Vick‘s last-minute interception, which sealed the Eagles’ defeat.

Holbrooke’s temporary replacement Frank Ruggiero was also in Kabul Monday, following a visit to Pakistan. Ruggiero delivered the message that Holbrooke’s SRAP office will remain intact, although Ruggiero himself is not expected to be head of that office permanently, the Washington Post reported.

Josh Rogin covers national security and foreign policy and writes the daily Web column The Cable. His column appears bi-weekly in the print edition of The Washington Post. He can be reached for comments or tips at josh.rogin@foreignpolicy.com.

Previously, Josh covered defense and foreign policy as a staff writer for Congressional Quarterly, writing extensively on Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantánamo Bay, U.S.-Asia relations, defense budgeting and appropriations, and the defense lobbying and contracting industries. Prior to that, he covered military modernization, cyber warfare, space, and missile defense for Federal Computer Week Magazine. He has also served as Pentagon Staff Reporter for the Asahi Shimbun, Japan's leading daily newspaper, in its Washington, D.C., bureau, where he reported on U.S.-Japan relations, Chinese military modernization, the North Korean nuclear crisis, and more.

A graduate of George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs, Josh lived in Yokohama, Japan, and studied at Tokyo's Sophia University. He speaks conversational Japanese and has reported from the region. He has also worked at the House International Relations Committee, the Embassy of Japan, and the Brookings Institution.

Josh's reporting has been featured on CNN, MSNBC, C-Span, CBS, ABC, NPR, WTOP, and several other outlets. He was a 2008-2009 National Press Foundation's Paul Miller Washington Reporting Fellow, 2009 military reporting fellow with the Knight Center for Specialized Journalism and the 2011 recipient of the InterAction Award for Excellence in International Reporting. He hails from Philadelphia and lives in Washington, D.C. Twitter: @joshrogin

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