This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.
U.S. President Donald Trump hinted on November 22 that he may visit American troops in Afghanistan for the first time.
Delivering a Thanksgiving holiday message by teleconference to troops in Afghanistan, Trump told one colonel: “I’ll see you back when you’re in the United States or maybe I’ll see you over there. You never know what’s going to happen.”
Questioned later by journalists on whether he would make the trip, Trump said: “At the appropriate time we’ll be doing some very interesting thing.”
Recent U.S. commanders-in-chief have routinely visited U.S. troops in active war zones. Almost two years into his presidency, Trump has been criticized for failing to do so.
By this point in his presidency, President Barack Obama had made a trip to Iraq and two to Afghanistan. President George W. Bush traveled to Afghanistan twice and Iraq four times during his two terms in office.
Trump also said that the United States is currently in “very, very strong negotiations” regarding Afghanistan. But he didn’t say if those negotiations were directly with the Taliban.
Taliban officials say they have had at least three meetings with U.S. representatives in Qatar in recent months, but Washington has neither confirmed or denied these direct talks.
The United States has some 14,000 troops in Afghanistan. They serve in the NATO-led Resolute Support training and advisory mission as well as in separate counterterrorism operations against militant groups like Islamic State.