By Jack Phillips
President Donald Trump arrived in Florida on Friday morning after his surprise trip to Afghanistan to visit American troops.
Trump’s plane touched down at Palm Beach International Airport before 7 a.m. local time, according to The Hill.
When he went to Afghanistan, he left Wednesday night before boarding a military plane at an undisclosed airport before going to Joint Base Andrews. He then transferred to another Air Force One plane before flying to Bagram Airfield north of Kabul.
Word of his visit to Afghanistan came at around 2 p.m. ET on Thursday when journalists traveling with the president were authorized to provide reports about the visit.
The White House said an identical Air Force One plane stayed at the airport in Palm Beach, Florida, while the president was in Afghanistan. That Air Force One plane flew to Germany on Thursday to pick up Trump for the trip back to the United States.
It’s not clear the president will return to Washington for the remainder of the weekend.
First lady Melania Trump and their son, Barron, have been staying at Mar-a-Lago since Tuesday, according to the Palm Beach Post.
During his visit, Trump spoke to Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and addressed the troops stationed at Bagram.
“The Taliban wants to make a deal—we’ll see if they make a deal. If they do they do, and if they don’t they don’t. That’s fine,” Trump said.
“The Taliban wants to make a deal and we’re meeting with them and we’re saying it has to be a cease-fire and they didn’t want to do a cease fire and now they do want to do a cease-fire,” he said. “I believe it’ll probably work out that way.”
He also said he would like to reduce the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan.
“We’re bringing down the number of troops substantially,” Trump said.
Ghani also hailed the death of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
“President Trump, people talked a lot about [al-Qaeda leader Osama] bin Laden, but what you did to eliminate al-Baghdadi—who was an organizer and not a talker—is a much greater accomplishment,” Ghani said during his talk with Trump.
He, along with Trump, spoke to the troops at Bagram, Afghanistan, on Thanksgiving, thanking U.S. troops for their sacrifices in the country.
“More than a million Americans have served here in uniform. We’ve paid tribute to their families and to your families,” he said. “I would like a special request: Please thank your families for agreeing to miss you at this special occasion at home, and for being here, defending United States security and our freedom.”
The Associated Press reported that about 12,000 U.S. soldiers remain in Afghanistan. Trump reportedly wants to bring down that number to around 8,000.
His remarks come several weeks after he announced that troops would be pulled back in Syria.
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