BAGRAM, Afghanistan — 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.
In a visit due to last about two-and-half hours, Trump served turkey to troops in a cafeteria, posed for photographs, and delivered remarks in a hangar, as well as meeting Afghan president Ashraf Ghani.
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 US president has more recently suggested that negotiations could get underway again.
The Taliban have refused to negotiate formally with the Afghan government, but diplomatic efforts continue to foster dialogue and plant the seeds of an eventual brokered peace deal.
In Washington, Trump’s relations with the US military leadership have been badly soured over his repeated interference in military discipline cases.
On November 15, Trump — the commander-in-chief of the US military — reversed the demotion handed down to Navy SEAL Edward Gallagher who was accused of war crimes, but was found guilty of a lesser offense.
Trump said that Gallagher had been “treated very badly” by the navy, and ordered that he not be expelled from the elite SEAL (Sea, Air, and Land) force.