Trump uses surprise trip to Afghanistan to promote new peace talks

Source: Politico | November 28, 2019 | Anita Kumar

In September, Trump called off talks to end America’s longest war after a Taliban attack killed a U.S. soldier.

BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan — President Donald Trump made a surprise trip to Afghanistan on Thanksgiving to rally U.S. troops and promote the restart of peace talks to end America’s longest war.

It was his first visit to the country, and the president used the opportunity to pledge that he would be resuming ceasefire discussions with the Taliban, the insurgent force the U.S. originally invaded Afghanistan to oust. Trump made the announcement during a meeting with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.

“The Taliban wants to make a deal — we’ll see if they make a deal,” he said during brief remarks to reporters following his meeting with Ghani, who had only been notified of Trump’s plans hours earlier. “If they do they do, and if they don’t they don’t. That’s fine.”

Trump has repeatedly pledged to pull American troops out of Afghanistan, but attempts to negotiate a peace settlement between the U.S., Taliban and the Afghan government have proved fitful. In September, Trump canceled plans to secretly bring Taliban leaders and the Afghan president to Camp David, cutting off talks after the Islamist militia took responsibility for an attack that killed a U.S. soldier.

But in recent days, Trump had been expressing optimism that negotiations could resume after a prisoner swap that led to the release of two westerners, including American Kevin King, who had been in Taliban hands for three years.

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