Taliban peace talks are back on track, said President Donald Trump during a surprise visit to US troops in Afghanistan on Thursday to convey his country’s Thanksgiving greetings.
Taliban want cease-fire and things may work out well if they really mean it, Trump said at a meeting with them joined by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.
A political solution could be reached if the people in the region are determined. The US would cut the number of troops in Afghanistan to 8,600 from nearly 14,000 if a tangible solution emerges and a truce holds, he added.
The US pull-out plan is linked to a commitment by Taliban not to allow terrorist groups to target the US and its interests elsewhere.
Trump’s announcement comes three months after he called off the talks with Taliban after a US soldier was killed along with 11 others in a terrorist attack in Kabul.
The resumption of peace talks with Taliban is an important step for Trump to end the longest war in US history ahead of the 2020 presidential election.
Thanking Americans for their “ultimate sacrifice”, Ghani said Afghan security forces are taking the lead now.
Earlier, after arriving at Bagram Air Field near Kabul, Trump served turkey to troops in a cafeteria and posed for photos.
Afghanistan is a dangerous area and Trump made this surprise trip to show his support to the troops, said White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham.
Those who accompanied him on the trip included acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, national security adviser Robert O’Brien, Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), deputy chief of staff for operations Dan Walsh and Grisham.
Because of security reasons, Trump’s Afghanistan trip was a closely-guarded secret.
According to Grisham, the trip had been planned for weeks.
The media thought Trump would be celebrating Thanksgiving at his Mar-a-Lago home.
The president’s Twitter account was kept active by the White House so as not to make anyone suspect that his phone had fallen silent.
Meanwhile, a small pool of reporters from Washington were made to temporarily surrender their communication devices and driven to Joint Base Andrews in Maryland to board Air Force One.
They were informed about their destination only two hours before the plane landed on a pitch-dark tarmac at Bagram Air Base.