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Obama Meets Afghan Leader Karzai

Obama Meets Afghan Leader Karzai

US Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama has met President Hamid Karzai while on a visit to Afghanistan.

Details of the talks have not yet been given. Mr Obama said earlier this week he would send extra US forces to the country if he is elected US president.

The senator, who flew to Kabul as part of a US congressional team, also had breakfast with US troops in the city.

Republican presidential candidate John McCain criticised him for announcing a strategy before visiting the region.

Mr Obama is later expected to visit Iraq, Jordan, Israel, Germany, France and Britain.

Correspondents say the Illinois senator is hoping to address security issues, seen as the weakest aspect of his bid to win the presidency in November's election.

Opinion polls suggest Americans regard Mr McCain, senator for Arizona, as a better potential commander-in-chief.

'Shared experiences'

Mr Obama and Mr Karzai met for lunch in the presidential palace in Kabul, according to officials, but it is not known what they discussed.

In an interview with CNN last week, Mr Obama criticised Mr Karzai's government, saying it had "not gotten out of the bunker" and had done too little to rebuild the country's institutions.

However, asked ahead of his visit what message he would convey to Afghan and Iraqi leaders, Mr Obama said: "I'm more interested in listening than doing a lot of talking."

He stressed that he was visiting the region as a senator, not as president.

Mr Obama and two other senators on the trip, Republican Chuck Hagel and Democrat Jack Reed, had earlier talked to US troops over breakfast inside Camp Eggers in Kabul.

"They sat with the soldiers, shared stories with the soldiers about what is going on in Afghanistan... shared experiences," said US military spokesman Lt Col Dave Johnson.

Combat brigades

On Saturday, the opening day of Mr Obama's overseas trip, the congressional delegation visited the north-east of the country, where he met troops and US officials.

The area has seen an increase in fighting with pro-Taleban rebels in recent months, notably along the border with Pakistan.

In a speech earlier this week, Mr Obama promised to commit at least two more combat brigades - up to 10,000 men - to Afghanistan, if he wins November's election.

He also said the US military should focus on that country rather than Iraq.

Mr Obama also said he would talk to commanders in both Afghanistan and Iraq to find out about their concerns.

Correspondents say the McCain campaign will seize on every perceived misstep during Mr Obama's trip, and will also point out that Mr McCain's earlier visits to Iraq and elsewhere attracted far less public attention.

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