BREAKING NEWS Butte County Sheriff's Office investigating dead body found in Palermo Full Story
SEVERE WX : Fire Weather Watch View Alerts

Trump in Afghanistan for surprise Thanksgiving visit

President Donald Trump made a surprise visit to Afghanistan to spend time with U.S. troops on Thanksgiving.

Posted: Nov 28, 2019 11:18 AM
Updated: Nov 28, 2019 12:25 PM

BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan (AP) - President Donald Trump paid a surprise Thanksgiving visit to Afghanistan, where he announced the U.S. and Taliban have been engaged in ongoing peace talks and said he believes the Taliban wants a ceasefire.

In his first trip to the site of America’s longest war, Trump arrived at Bagram Air Field shortly after 8:30 p.m. local time Thursday and spent more than two-and-a-half hours on the ground, serving turkey, thanking the troops and sitting down with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.

As per tradition, reporters were under strict instructions to keep the trip a secret to ensure his safety in the country. About 12,000 U.S. forces remain in Afghanistan.

Traveling with a small clutch of aides, including his acting chief of staff, press secretary and national security adviser, but not the first lady, Trump appeared in good spirits as he was escorted around the base by heavily armed soldiers, as the smell of burning fuel and garbage wafted through the chilly air.

His first stop was a dining hall where he plated turkey and sat down for a meal.

During his visit, Trump said the U.S. and Taliban have been engaged in peace talks and insisted the Taliban want to make a deal after heavy U.S. fire in recent months.

“We’re meeting with them,” he said. “And we’re saying it has to be a ceasefire. And they don’t want to do a ceasefire, but now they do want to do a ceasefire, I believe... and we’ll see what happens.”

The trip comes after Trump abruptly broke off peace talks with the Taliban in September, canceling a secret meeting with Taliban and Afghan leaders at the Camp David presidential retreat after a particularly deadly spate of violence, capped by a bombing in Kabul that killed 12 people, including an American soldier.

That ended a nearly yearlong effort by the U.S. to reach a political settlement with the Taliban, the group that protected al-Qaida extremists in Afghanistan, prompting U.S. military action after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. U.S. and international forces have been on the ground ever since.

Trump ran his 2016 campaign promising to end the nation’s “endless wars” and has been pushing to withdraw troops from Afghanistan and in the Middle East, despite protests from top U.S. officials, Trump’s Republican allies in Washington and many U.S. allies abroad. For months now, he has described American forces as “policemen” and argued that other countries’ wars should be theirs to wage.

Tens of thousands of Afghan civilians and more than 2,400 American service members have been killed since the war began 18 years ago.

Just last week, Trump flew to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware to oversee the transfer of remains of two Army officers killed when their helicopter crashed as they provided security for troops on the ground in Logar Province in eastern Afghanistan. The Taliban still controls or holds sway over about half of the country, staging near-daily attacks targeting Afghan forces and government officials.

The U.S. and Taliban had been close to an agreement in September that might have enabled a U.S. troop withdrawal.

Trump said he was proceeding with a plan to reduce U.S. troop levels to about 8,600, telling reporters we’re “bringing down the number of troops substantially.”

Still, he said, the U.S. will stay in the country “until we have a deal or we have total victory.”

The White House took pains to keep the trip a secret after Trump’s cover was blown last year when Air Force One was spotted en route to Iraq by an amateur British flight watcher.

Cell phones and other transmitting devices were confiscated for the duration of the trip from everyone traveling aboard Air Force One. And Thanksgiving-themed tweets were teed up to publish ahead of time from Trump’s account to prevent suspicions arising about the president’s silence.

A small group of reporters was told to meet Wednesday night on the top floor of a parking garage and transported in black vans to Andrews Air Force Base. Meanwhile, the president was secretly flying back from Florida, where reporters had been told he’d be spending Thanksgiving at his Mar-a-Lago club.

The plane he’d flown to Florida - the modified 747 painted in the iconic white and blue of Air Force One - remained parked on the tarmac at West Palm Beach Airport to avoid revealing the president’s movement.

About 9:45 p.m., the president boarded a nearly identical plane concealed in a hangar at Andrews Air Base, taking off and landing under the cover of darkness, with cabin lights dimmed and window shutters drawn.

White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said plans for the visit had been in the works for weeks.

“It’s a dangerous area and he wants to support the troops,” Grisham told reporters before Trump landed. “He and Mrs. Trump recognize that there’s a lot of people who are away from their families during the holidays and we thought it’d be a nice surprise.”

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 554388

Reported Deaths: 10307
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Los Angeles2067784967
Riverside40452799
Orange39076720
San Bernardino35452502
San Diego31779586
Kern22626171
Fresno17031171
Alameda13213208
San Joaquin12303211
Santa Clara11475203
Sacramento10795161
Tulare10475196
Imperial9693244
Stanislaus9566161
Contra Costa9022138
Ventura814689
San Francisco743267
Santa Barbara670469
San Mateo6110120
Marin528779
Monterey521235
Merced501264
Kings445356
Solano402940
Sonoma343147
Madera230239
Placer218620
San Luis Obispo209315
Yolo169043
Santa Cruz12386
Butte10958
Napa104610
Sutter9217
El Dorado7291
San Benito7094
Lassen6380
Yuba5884
Shasta41810
Mendocino38010
Colusa3624
Glenn3603
Nevada3221
Humboldt2824
Tehama2761
Lake2202
Amador1642
Mono1531
Tuolumne1522
Calaveras1471
Del Norte990
Siskiyou930
Inyo643
Mariposa602
Plumas340
Modoc50
Trinity50
Sierra30
Alpine20
Unassigned00
Chico
Few Clouds
99° wxIcon
Hi: 103° Lo: 71°
Feels Like: 99°
Oroville
Clear
98° wxIcon
Hi: 103° Lo: 71°
Feels Like: 98°
Paradise
Few Clouds
99° wxIcon
Hi: 96° Lo: 72°
Feels Like: 99°
Chester
Clear
89° wxIcon
Hi: 89° Lo: 61°
Feels Like: 89°
Red Bluff
Clear
105° wxIcon
Hi: 107° Lo: 73°
Feels Like: 105°
Willows
Few Clouds
99° wxIcon
Hi: 106° Lo: 67°
Feels Like: 99°
After a couple days of comfortably cooler than average weather around northern California, highs rose rapidly to more seasonable levels this afternoon. The warming trend will continue through the weekend, too.
KHSL Severe
KHSL Radar
KHSL Temperatures

Community Events