US President meeting with Afghan President on Thursday, Nov 28, in the Afghan capital Kabul

Trump pays surprise visit to Afghanistan

US President Donald Trump made a surprise visit to Afghanistan and met with American soldiers at Bagram airbase on Thursday, November 28. It was his first ever visit to the country. Mr. Trump announced that his administration had resumed peace talks with the Taliban insurgents.

He also met with the Afghan president at Bagram airbase, a US military base located in the northeastern Parwan province.

“The Taliban wants to make a deal, and we’re meeting with them,” Trump said during a meeting with Ashraf Ghani, the incumbent Afghan president.

His remarks came while earlier in September he called off US-Taliban peace talks following a Taliban-claimed deadly attack that killed 13 civilians and one US soldier in the Afghan capital Kabul. The two sides were about to sign a peace agreement but Taliban’s attack pushed Trump to stop peace negotiation.

“We are saying it has to be a ceasefire, and they didn’t want to do a cease-fire,” the US president said about the Taliban insurgents. “Now they do want to do a cease-fire. I believe it will probably work out that way,” he added.

Mr. Trump, who is facing an election at home, has repeatedly said his administration will reduce the number of US troops in Afghanistan. There are some 13,000 American troops in Afghanistan. Though he did not specify the exact number of US troops planned to be taken out the country, the US President said he was planning to cut troops number.

According to report, Trump served turkey to American troops on Thanksgiving Day and posed for photos with the US soldiers.

Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, in a tweet posted hours after his meeting with US President, wrote: “both sides underscored that if the Taliban are sincere in their commitment to reaching a peace deal, they must accept a ceasefire.”

The Kabul government—led by Mohammad Ashraf Ghani—has repeatedly said that ceasefire is a precondition to peace talks with the Taliban insurgents, something the group have repeatedly ignored. The Kabul government says the Afghan peace process should be led and owned by the Afghans. Senior Afghan security officials have repeatedly underlined that any peace talks, influenced by foreigners, will not bring sustainable peace to the country.

The two sides—the US and the Taliban– made a successful prisoner swap early November. The Taliban released two Western professors, American Kevin King and Australian Timothy Weeks, who had been held hostage since 2016. They were exchanged for three high profile Taliban prisoners including Anas Haqqani, a notorious Taliban operative who has been behind many deadly attacks on the Afghan capital Kabul and other Afghan cities.     

US President Donald Trump visited Afghanistan a day after 13 people including children were killed when a roadside bomb hit their car on the way to a wedding party in Imam Saheb district, a Taliban-controlled area in the northern Kunduz province.

Mr. Trump arrived in Kabul a day before partnership and stability presidential ticket, led by the incumbent chief executive Abdullah Abdullah, announces that they will take to Kabul streets on Friday, November 29, to protest against what they called election manipulation.