(CNN) — President Donald Trump arrived in Afghanistan Thursday to pay a surprise Thanksgiving visit to US troops, his first trip to the country.
It’s the President’s second visit to US troops overseas in a war zone following a trip to Iraq at the end of last year.
After his arrival, Trump held a bilateral meeting with the President of Afghanistan, Ashrav Ghani.
Speaking at Bagram Air Base, Trump told troops that “the Taliban wants to make a deal. We’ll see if they want to make a deal. It’s got to be a real deal, but we’ll see. But they want to make a deal.”
There are about 12,000 US troops currently serving in Afghanistan in a conflict triggered by the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, that has claimed more than 2,300 American lives.
Last week, President Trump seemed to suggest that negotiations with the Taliban were back on — months after the peace talks with the militant group collapsed.
Hopes for a peace accord between the US and Taliban in Afghanistan were dashed when President Trump announced an end to formal talks in September 2019 after a Taliban-claimed attack in Kabul that killed a dozen people, including an American soldier. Taliban leaders were to travel to the US for secret peace talks, but after the attack President Trump called off the meetings and canceled the negotiations.
“We’re working on an agreement now with the Taliban,” The President said on Fox News’ “Fox & Friends.” “Let’s see what happens.”
His comments came several days after the Taliban released an American and Australian professor in exchange for the release of three Taliban prisoners by the Afghan government. The Taliban also released 10 Afghan soldiers last week.
The US praised the release of the professors, American Kevin King and Australian Timothy Weeks, with Trump tweeting, “Let’s hope this leads to more good things on the peace front like a ceasefire that will help end this long war.”
CORRECTION: This story has been corrected to reflect that Melania Trump did not travel with the President as CNN had previously reported.