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Saturday, July 19, 2008

Obama in Afghanistan, visit to Israel raises security concerns

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2008/07/obama-in-afghanistan-visit-to-israel.html

 Last update - 11:55 19/07/2008       
Report: Obama's planned visit to Mideast raises serious security concerns
By Haaretz Service
U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama arrived in Afghanistan on Saturday, as part of a Middle East trip that has many concerned about the candidate's safety.
 
"At approximately 3:15 a.m. (0715 GMT), I received a phone call telling me that Senator Obama had landed at the airport in Kabul, Afghanistan," Robert Gibbs, a top aide to the Illinois senator, said in a written statement.
 
Few citizens in impoverished Afghanistan were aware of Obama's unannounced visit, and few have been following the U.S. presidential race, being too busy eking out an existence amid soaring violence and with limited access to news media.
 
But some interviewed Saturday said they would welcome an Obama presidency if he could help their country end the fighting, corruption and poverty that have crippled it for so long.
 
"Obama is a good person," said Abdul Basir, 40, a former army officer. During his campaign I heard he was saying that if I become president I will withdraw the U.S. troops from Iraq and bring them to Afghanistan and I will attack on the terror center on other side of border (in Pakistan). It is very important and I appreciated that.
 
The Afghans expressed a readiness to see the end of George W. Bush's
presidency. Obama's racial heritage also has drawn attention here.
 
"He's welcome to our war-torn city, said Habibullah Hamdard, a 42-year-old teacher. If he has loved his children, he should love the Afghan children who are dying around the country every day. The white guy couldn't do anything, let's see what the black guy can do."
 
Obama left the United States on Thursday and stopped first in Kuwait, where he visited troops, Gibbs said.
 
Obama's upcoming trip to Israel and the West Bank has raised serious security concerns among American officials, the U.S.-based news website Drudge Report reported Friday.
 
Obama was scheduled to visit Israel and the West Bank in the coming days as part of a swing through the Middle East, Palestinian and Israeli officials said earlier this week.
 
Obama will be in Israel on July 22 and 23 and hold talks with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, President Shimon Peres and opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu, an Israeli official said.
 
Palestinian peace negotiator Saeb Erekat said Obama would also meet President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank city of Ramallah next Wednesday.
 
The Drudge report said that security concerns were raised after a border policeman shot himself dead at Israel's Ben Gurion International Airport last month, 200 meters from where French President Nicolas Sarkozy was getting ready to board a plane ending his trip to Israel.
 
"I would prefer if he did not make the trip to Ramallah," the report cited a Washington official as saying, adding that "he must use extreme caution throughout Israel at this time, in my opinion, especially Jerusalem."
 
Over the last four months the capital has seen three terror attacks in which 11 people had been killed and dozens had been wounded.
 
Senior sources revealed that Obama's foot tour of the Old City had been canceled, the report added.
 
Obama's official itinerary was not made public.
 


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