Obama arrives in Afghanistan

KABUL, Saturday, 2008 (AFP) - US Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama arrived in Afghanistan Saturday on an unannounced trip at the start of a major international tour, CNN and BBC television reported.

In Kabul, Afghan government and US officials would not confirm that Obama was in the country with high-profile visits usually shrouded in secrecy because of security threats linked to a Taliban-led insurgency. The Illinois senator has been outspoken about the need to do more to help Afghanistan as violence linked to the insurgency has worsened with some of the deadliest attacks in recent weeks.
He said in the New York Times on Monday that the United States should deploy about 10,000 more troops to Afghanistan as it downscales in Iraq. Nearly 70,000 international troops, the bulk of them Americans, are in Afghanistan to help the Western-backed government fight the insurgency.

"We need more troops, more helicopters, better intelligence-gathering and more non-military assistance to accomplish the mission there," Obama said in the newspaper. "Iraq is not the central front in the war on terrorism, and it never has been."

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