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In Surprise Visit To Afghanistan, Trump Says US In Peace Talks With Taliban

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President Donald Trump confirmed that his government resumed peace talks with the Taliban in Afghanistan, and claimed the joint efforts of U.S., Afghan security forces helped improve the security situation in the terror-stricken country over the past six months.

Talking to reporters at Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan, where he made a surprise visit on Thanksgiving Day, Trump did not commit a time line for withdrawal of U.S. troops from the country.

The U.S. president addressed the media with his Afghan counterpart Ashraf Ghani after meeting him at the U.S. Air Force headquarters on the base. Trump then spoke to more than a thousand service members at a hangar on the flight line.

It was Trump's first visit to Afghanistan as President.

At the press briefing, Trump responded in the affirmative to a question if Washington restarted peace talks with the Taliban, which was called off in September after the terrorist group killed a U.S. soldier in Kabul. He said that U.S. officials are speaking with Taliban officials.

"We're going to stay until such time as we have a deal or we have total victory. And they want to make a deal very badly," according to Trump.

Trump said the U.S. military made tremendous success in the last few months in pinning down terror groups such as ISIS and Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, adding, "Taliban wants to make a deal."
He claimed that the strength of ISIS and al Qaeda cadres is down to hundreds, "Probably 200 left."

Gen. Mark A. Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, confirmed Trump's claim. "There's ongoing talks with the Taliban, and hopefully those will be successful and lead to Afghan-to-Afghan dialogue in the not-too-distant future."

Gen. Milley said Afghan troops and international troops have put a significant amount of pressure on ISIS, particularly in Nangarhar. "And they've been hurt bad. Their numbers have been dwindled significantly. Organizationally, they have not been destroyed but they have been severely hurt. And that pressure will continue," he told reporters.

He thanked U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Scott Miller and the entire team of U.S. forces there for doing a great job in combination with the Afghan National Security Forces.

Afghan President Ghani thanked the American soldiers who made the "ultimate sacrifice" in Afghanistan and saluted their courage and determination "for your security and our freedom."

He noted that since 2001, when the United States launched its anti-terrorist mission in Afghanistan, 2,298 American troops lost their lives, and the US casualties were way down under Trump's presidency.

"Afghan security forces are taking the lead now. In the next three months, it's going to be all Afghanistan," according to Ghani.

Earlier, the U.S. troops were surprised by Trump's visit to their camp. The president followed traditional military protocol and joined Gen. Milley and Gen. Austin S. Miller, commander of Resolute Support Mission, in helping to serve the Thanksgiving feast to the troops at the Bagram dining facility.

He also sat and spoke with service members, and had pictures taken with many of them.

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