Pence visits Afghanistan to say United States troops will stay


Vice President Mike Pence swooped into Afghanistan for a secret meeting with Afghan leaders and a visit with USA troops, pointing to progress four months after President Donald Trump announced a new strategy to end a stalemate in America's longest war.

Reporters traveling with Pence agreed to keep the trip secret until an hour before Pence was scheduled to fly back to the US.

'Those days are over, ' Pence said.

"The American people deserve to know that with the courage of everyone gathered here, we're making real progress in this fight for freedom in Afghanistan", Pence told the troops.

"However, if actionable intelligence is provided to us, Pakistan can conduct intelligence-based operations", she added.

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In his Kabul visit, Mike Pence held talks with the Afghan government leaders President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah.

Power on display: Mike pence walked on to a stage at Bagram Air Field in front of an Army Black Hawk.

In her statement to the council, the Pakistani envoy warned of a new and vicious threat which had emerged in Afghanistan with the presence of a conglomerate of terrorists from various parts of the world: the TTP, ETIM, IMU and other groups. Pence's surprise visit is the first to the war-torn country by either Trump or the vice president.

Almost a year into office, Trump has yet to visit troops in Iraq or Afghanistan - and never did as a private citizen. But the trip to Afghanistan secretly remained on Pence's schedule.

He succeeded Akhtar Mohammad Mansour, who was killed in a USA drone strike in 2016.

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But the trip comes as Afghan security forces struggle to beat back the Taliban, which has been on the offensive since the withdrawal of US-led North Atlantic Treaty Organisation combat troops at the end of 2014 and maintains control over swathes of the country.

Pence said: 'Peace only comes through strength.' He urged the soldiers to be strong and courageous.

She said that neither Kabul and the Coalition nor the Afghan Taliban, can impose a military solution on each other. A day earlier, there were separate attacks on a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation convoy and a police checkpoint in southern Afghanistan.

Reiterating Pakistan's view, Ambassador of Pakistan to the UN Maleeha Lodhi on Saturday said only a negotiated peace could end the long war in Afghanistan and restore stability to the region.

A senior White House official said Pence and Trump decided the Vice President should go to Afghanistan to tout the new USA strategy and because of Pence's close working relationship with Ghani, whom Pence speaks with about once a month.

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Pence was joined by the U.S. commanding general in Afghanistan, Gen. John Nicholson, who joined Pence for his meeting with Ghani alongside a handful of top White House aides, including the Vice President's chief of staff Nick Ayers and the President's deputy national security adviser Dina Powell.