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Trump makes unannounced visit to US troops in Afghanistan on Thanksgiving

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U.S. President Donald Trump eats dinner with U.S. troops at a Thanksgiving dinner event during a surprise visit at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan, November 28, 2019. REUTERS/Tom Brenner

Tom Brenner | Reuters

President Donald Trump traveled to Afghanistan for the first time to visit U.S. troops during the Thanksgiving holiday, where he met with the Afghan president and raised hopes of a ceasefire with the Taliban. 

Trump landed at Bagram Airfield and served Thanksgiving dinner to service members before meeting with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani. He then addressed 1,500 troops representing all services in a hanger. 

Trump said the U.S. is “substantially” drawing down its troop numbers in the country, though he did not provide specifics. The president said the Afghan Taliban wants to make a deal and he believes they want a ceasefire.

Trump has repeatedly said he wants to reduce troop numbers in Afghanistan, where the U.S. has fought the longest war in its history. American service members first deployed to Afghanistan in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington, D.C.. The conflict has spanned three administrations. 

The president’s visit comes one week after the Taliban freed two Western hostages, American Kevin King and Australian Timothy Weeks. The American University professors had been held for more than three years. 

In September, Trump abruptly cancelled peace talks with the Taliban after the insurgent group claimed responsibility  for an attack in Kabul that killed an American soldier and 11 other people. The president had planned a secret meeting with the Taliban’s major leaders at Camp David before calling it off. 

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