Trump hints could make first visit to troops in Afghanistan

Palm Beach: US President Donald Trump hinted on Thursday he might soon visit American troops in Afghanistan for the first time.

Addressing servicemembers in a Thanksgiving telephone conference, the president told one colonel deployed to the country: “I’ll see you back when you’re in the United States or maybe I’ll see you over there.”

Questioned later by journalists on whether he would make the trip, the president simply said: “At the appropriate time, we’ll be doing some very interesting thing.”

While 14,000 US military personnel remain deployed in Afghanistan 17 years after the war began in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks, the Republican president has yet to make a visit after nearly two years in office.

Presidential trips to conflict zones are usually kept secret until the last minute.

Trump also said the US is currently in “very, very strong negotiations” regarding Afghanistan.

“We are talking about peace,” he said, without explicitly confirming if those talks were directly with the Taliban.

“If something happens, that would be a great thing. I would be very happy about that,” he added.

The Taliban say they have had at least three meetings with US officials in Qatar in recent months, but the US has neither confirmed nor denied these direct talks.

The US special adviser to Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, said recently he was cautiously optimistic about the possibility of a peace agreement ahead of the country’s election on April 20.

[source_without_link]Agence France-Presse[/source_without_link]