US President Donald Trump made an unannounced trip to Afghanistan on Thursday to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday with US troops at the Bagram airbase outside the capital Kabul. After having dinner with his troops, he arranged bilateral meetings with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani. In a visit due to last about two-and-half hours, he served turkey to troops in a cafeteria, posed for photographs, and delivered remarks in a hangar.
Trump wished them a Happy Thanksgiving. He then walked into a dining hall full of about 500 troops. “I’ll be talking to you later, but right now I want to have some turkey.” he said. “I’m going to join you for a little lunch. We’re also going to shake hands with some of the folks.”
About 13,000 US troops remain in Afghanistan, 18 years after the United States invaded in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks.
The United States earlier this year reached a deal with the Taliban insurgents to pull troops from the country and wind down America’s longest war in return for security guarantees.
But Trump made a shock move in September, describing the year-long talks as “dead” and withdrawing an invitation to the insurgents to meet near Washington due to the killing of a US soldier.
The White House notified President Ghani about this trip shortly before Trump’s landing in Afghanistan.
According to White House Deputy White House Press Secretary Judd Deere, an invitation was extended “a few hours ago” and Ghani accepted.
After his bilateral with Ghani, Trump addressed a few hundred cheering troops from inside a massive hanger on the air field. Standing in front of a huge American flag and flanked by two tanks, the commander in chief almost immediately brought Afghanistan on stage.
Ghani also thanked the troops for “your support and the bravery of Afghan soldiers, we’ve inflicted an incredible defeat of ISIS.”
This was Trump’s second to a conflict zone. Last year, he travelled to Iraq to visit US troops on the day after Christmas.