Trump Pays Surprise Thanksgiving Visit To Afghanistan, Says Taliban Talks Back On
November 28, 2019
President Donald Trump has said the United States has resumed talks with the Taliban as he made an unannounced Thanksgiving visit to U.S. troops in Afghanistan -- his first to the war-torn country since taking office in 2017.
"The Taliban wants to make a deal and we're meeting with them," he told reporters at Bagram Airfield, north of Kabul, on November 28. "We're saying it has to be a cease-fire and they didn't want to do a cease-fire and now they do want to do a cease-fire."
"It'll probably work out that way," he said.
Trump's trip comes a week after the release of two Western hostages from Taliban custody in exchange for three high-ranking Taliban prisoners raised hopes for a revival of peace talks.
The United States and the Taliban had been talking in a bid to put an end to the 18-year Afghan conflict for almost a year before Trump called off the talks in September.
In Bagram, Trump acknowledged U.S. troop levels were "substantially" coming down, but insisted that "we're going to stay until such time as we have a deal or we have total victory, and they want to make a deal very badly."
There are roughly 13,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan, as well as European forces participating in the NATO-led Resolute Support mission.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani's team last month released a seven-point proposal aimed at building on the U.S.-Taliban talks.
However, observers have questioned whether certain proposals in the plan -- including a call for a monthlong Taliban cease-fire before talks resume -- are feasible.
Also, the Taliban has so far refused to talk to the Afghan government, which it says is a U.S. puppet.
Trump was greeted by U.S. Army General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, upon his arrival at Bagram.
Trump, who was accompanied by U.S. national-security adviser Robert O'Brien, met with Ghani.
He also served turkey to some U.S. troops and sat down to eat Thanksgiving dinner with them.
With reporting by Reuters and AFP
Copyright (c) 2019. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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