Bagram (Reuters) – President Donald Trump made a surprise Thanksgiving visit to U.S. troops in Afghanistan on Thursday and said he believed Taliban insurgents would agree to a ceasefire in America’s longest war.
Trump’s visit was his first to Afghanistan since becoming president and came a week after a prisoner swap between Washington and Kabul that has raised hopes for a long elusive peace deal.
“The Taliban wants to make a deal and we are meeting with them,” Trump told reporters after arriving in Afghanistan after an overnight flight from the United States, kept secret for security reasons.
“We say it has to be a ceasefire and they didn’t want to do a ceasefire and now they want to do a ceasefire, I believe. It will probably work out that way.”
Taliban leaders have told Reuters that the group has again been holding meetings with senior U.S. officials in Doha since last weekend, adding they could soon resume formal peace talks.
The Air Force One presidential plane touched down at Bagram Airfield late in the evening on Thursday, with White House national security adviser Robert O’Brien, a small group of aides and Secret Service agents. Two surveillance blimps flew overhead.
Trump met with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and served turkey to some U.S. troops before sitting down to eat Thanksgiving dinner with them. He chatted and had his picture taken with some of the U.S. forces deployed there.
“What a great job you do. It’s an honor to be here,” he said.