The Taliban wants to make a deal, and we’re meeting with them,’ Trump said
US President Donald Trump arrived in Afghanistan Thursday on an unannounced trip, visiting the US troops stationed in the war-torn country.
The Thanksgiving trip, shrouded in secrecy for security reasons, was the first time the president visited the country.
During the surprise visit, he said, while addressing the troops at in a hangar on the Bagram airbase, that the US is engaged in ongoing talks with the Taliban, and that he believed the group was open to a ceasefire, a key demand of the government in Kabul.
Donald Trump makes surprise visit to Afghanistan | November 28, 2019
"The Taliban wants to make a deal and we’re meeting with them and we’re saying it has to be a cease fire and... now they do want to do a ceasefire," Trump said, as he was joined by his Afghan counterpart Ahraf Ghani, who laid on the praise for the successful raid on ISIS leader al-Baghdadi.
Trump stressed his desire to cut US military presence on Afghan soil to some 8,600 troops, but said they would stay in the country until a deal is struck with the Taliban -- or until "total victory."
About 13,000 US troops remain in Afghanistan, 18 years after the United States invaded in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks.
Trump also served the traditional Thanksgiving dinner to the US servicemen and posed for photos.
"There’s nowhere I’d rather celebrate this Thanksgiving than right here with the toughest, strongest, best and bravest warriors on the face of the earth," Trump told the troops.
In early September, President Trump announced that he abruptly called off a major summit with the Taliban over a blast in Kabul which killed a US serviceman.
The nixed relations triggered an angry response from the Taliban, with Trump saying later that the talks were pretty much dead, as far as he was concerned.