(05/11/12) - It was a surprise trip that ended in a historic agreement between the U.S. and Afghanistan -- we're talking about President Obama's visit to Afghanistan last week. One local lawmaker witnessed the whole thing first-hand.
Senator Carl Levin had a two-day visit to Afghanistan planned for quite some time. It's something he's done a half-dozen times as the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee. But when news broke President Obama was making a surprise visit, the trip took on a whole new meaning.
"There are not too many secrets that are well-kept in Washington, but that one was!" Levin said.
Levin says he had no idea the president was coming to Afghanistan until just a few hours before Air Force One landed. Levin and Senator Jack Reed of Rhode Island were already in the country to get a first-hand look at security developments. Levin says security got even tighter once the president arrived.
"There are attacks still by the Taliban – that's the bad news. The good news is there are fewer," Levin explained.
Thankfully, there were no incidents as Levin witnessed a historic event -- President Obama and Afghan President Hamid Karzai signing an agreement that outlines the two countries' relationship once all the U.S. forces leave Afghanistan in 2014.
"If they feel they've got other support in the region and internationally, which this agreement really represents, they are psychologically a lot more secure, and that means they will be more secure," Levin said.
But even with all the hype over the president's visit, Levin says he enjoyed meeting with troops from Michigan just as much.
"It's just fabulous to be with our own troops and hear their stories – whatever they are, whatever their needs are – we want to fill and let them know the American people support them," he said.
Levin also visited Turkey and NATO headquarters in Belgium following the Afghanistan trip.
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