Vice President Dick Cheney (search) will travel to Afghanistan to attend the inauguration Tuesday of Hamid Karzai (search) as Afghanistan's first directly elected president.

Cheney will also meet with Karzai and other government officials, and will thank U.S. and other troops serving there, the White House announced Thursday. The vice president will be acccompanied by his wife, Lynne Cheney (search).

Thousands of U.S. soldiers are preparing an operation against Taliban insurgents to pre-empt an expected spring offensive which could upset plans for Afghan parliamentary elections.

The operation will begin within days of Karzai's inauguration.

Other members of the presidential delegation at Karzai's inauguration will be: Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld (search), U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad, Christine Rocca, assistant secretary of state for south Asian affairs, and Karen Hughes, former counselor to the president.