(28 Nov 2019) FOR CLEAN VERSION SEE STORY NUMBER: apus127407
President Donald Trump paid a surprise Thanksgiving visit to Afghanistan, where he announced the U.S. and Taliban have been engaged in ongoing peace talks and said he believes the Taliban want a cease-fire.
Trump arrived at Bagram Air Field shortly after 8:30 p.m. local time and spent more than two-and-a-half hours on the ground. Reporters were under strict instructions to keep the trip a secret to ensure his safety.
The visit comes more than two months after Trump abruptly broke off peace talks with the Taliban after a bombing in Kabul killed 12 people, including an American soldier.
And it comes at a pivotal moment in Trump’s presidency, with the impeachment inquiry moving quickly.
The president and first lady made a similar trip last year to Iraq on Christmas night — their first to an active conflict zone.
Trump appeared in good spirits as he was escorted around the base by heavily armed soldiers, as the smell of burning fuel and garbage wafted through the chilly air.
Unlike last year’s post-Christmas visit to Iraq, first lady Melania Trump did not make the trip.
During his visit, Trump said the U.S. and Taliban have been engaged in peace talks and insisted the Taliban want to make a deal after heavy U.S. fire in recent months.
It was not immediately clear how long or substantive the U.S. reengagement with the Taliban has been.
Vice President Mike Pence also visited troops in Iraq this week.
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