US Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama has started his overseas tour with visits to US forces in Kuwait and Afghanistan. His trip is aimed at boosting his foreign policy credentials, ahead of November’s presidential election.
Obama insisted he was not in Afghanistan to dictate policy but to learn the soldiers’ needs:
“The key, I think, at this point, is to make sure that not only do you guys have the support that you need, back home and in Congress, but that we also have a strategy and a mission that allows you to do your jobs well, that is also going to serve the larger strategic interests of the United States.”
In Afghanistan, the Illinois senator met military leaders and troops at Bagram air base, close to the capital, Kabul. He also met troops at Jalalabad Air Field, in Nangarhar Province – an area that has seen an upsurge in fighting in recent months.
Obama has said he wants to send two more brigades – around seven thousand soldiers- to Afghanistan. He says the US military should focus on that country rather than Iraq.