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Obama's Surprise Memorial Day Weekend Visit to Afghanistan

The president landed at Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan for an unannounced meeting with commanders and a Memorial Day address to troops.

Obama's Surprise Memorial Day Weekend Visit to Afghanistan
The White House / Pete Souza
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President Obama made a surprise Memorial Day weekend visit to Afghanistan, slipping into Bagram Airfield Sunday to speak to troops. (Via The White House / Pete Souza)

"I thank you as your commander in chief ... Your willingness to serve, to step forward at a time of war and say 'send me' keeps our country strong and safe." (Via Fox News)

The trip was unannounced and unreported until the president arrived around noon Sunday eastern standard time. With Obama was country music singer Brad Paisley, who performed for troops before the president's remarks. (Via CNN)

It's his first visit to Afghanistan since 2012. Now, President Obama didn't announce any major policy changes in his address. Instead, it was a message of thanks to the 32,000 U.S. troops still stationed in Afghanistan and a renewed promise of an official end to the 13-year war by the end of 2014.

Top U.S. officials had hoped to leave some American troops in Afghanistan past the year's end. Current Afghan president Hamid Karzai has refused to sign a security agreement allowing that, though two leading candidates to replace Karzai this year have both hinted they're open to signing it. (The White House / Pete Souza)

White House officials say the president has no plans to meet with Karzai or travel to the capital Kabul during this trip, though he did speak privately with commanders about the situation on the ground in Afghanistan.