Trump: US 'substantially' withdrawing troops from Afghanistan
Iran Press TV
Thursday, 28 November 2019 11:12 PM
US President Donald Trump has made an unannounced visit to American troops in Afghanistan, his first trip to the country since taking office in 2017.
Trump landed at Bagram Airfield on Thursday and served Thanksgiving dinner to American troops before meeting with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.
Trump said the US was "very substantially" withdrawing its troops from Afghanistan, without giving specific numbers.
He claimed the Taliban militant group has accepted a ceasefire to facilitate talks with Washington.
"The Taliban wants to make a deal and we're meeting with them and we're saying it has to be a cease fire," the US president, on his first trip to the war-torn country, told reporters.
"We are talking to the Taliban," Trump said.
"We will see if the Taliban wants to make a deal," he said during his meeting with Ghani. "If they do, they do. If they don't they don't. We were getting close."
There are some 13,000 US troops still deployed to Afghanistan, 18 years after the United States invaded after the September 11, 2001 attacks. Trump claimed he planned to reduce the number to 8,600.
"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.
"I've just come from serving Thanksgiving dinner to some of you... and we had a good time."
"It's a dangerous area and he wants to support the troops," White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said of Trump. "He and Mrs. Trump recognize that there's a lot of people far away from their families during the holidays and we thought it'd be a nice surprise.
"It's truly about Thanksgiving and supporting the troops."
Trump's visit comes days after the militant group freed a dozen captives, including an American in a prisoner swap. The move has reportedly led to the resumption of talks between the US and Taliban after Trump abruptly called off the year-long dialogue with in September.
The US invaded Afghanistan in October 2001 under the pretext of eliminating the Taliban militant group.
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