Pence makes surprise trip to Afghanistan

Pence makes surprise trip to Afghanistan
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Vice President Pence made a surprise trip to Afghanistan on Thursday to meet with U.S. troops and Afghan leaders. 

Pence departed on the unannounced trip shortly after an event at the White House on Wednesday to celebrate tax reform. From there, according to pool reports, the vice president flew by military aircraft into Bagram Air Field.

Pence's trip was the first by either the president or vice president since the pair took office in January. Journalists accompanying the vice president were barred from reporting on the journey over to Afghanistan and for the first hours of the visit.

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From Bagram, Pence flew by helicopter to Afghanistan's capital, Kabul, where he met with President Ashraf Ghani. 

The trip focused on the Trump administration's new strategy in Afghanistan, which hinges on sending more U.S. troops to the country and makes assistance to the Afghan government conditional on results. It also presses for more cooperation from Pakistan in cracking down on terrorist groups near its border.

"We believe that we are now on a path to achieve a lasting victory for freedom and security in Afghanistan," Pence said in remarks during his meeting with Ghani. "We are grateful for your leadership and partnership in that effort."

After his meeting with Ghani, Pence returned to Bagram, where he spoke to a gathering of about 500 troops. During that address the vice president outlined the administration's Afghanistan strategy and insisted that the U.S. would "no longer be bound by arbitrary timetables" in the country.

“Under President Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpHouse Republican threatens to push for Rosenstein impeachment unless he testifies Judge suggests Trump’s tweet about Stormy Daniels was ‘hyperbole’ not defamation Rosenstein faces Trump showdown MORE, the armed forces of the United States will remain engaged in Afghanistan until we eliminate the terrorist threat to our homeland, to our people, once and for all,” he said.