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Mike Pence lands in Afghanistan on surprise trip

18 Apr 2018 The Independent

Vice President Mike Pence has landed in Afghanistan on an unannounced, pre-Christmas trip to the Middle Eastern country, just months after the White House he works under announced that it would pursue a new strategy in the country with the hopes of ending the 16-year-war there.

Mr Pence landed Thursday at Bagram Air Base under heavy security, before being lifted via helicopter to Kabul, where he is expected to hold meetings with Afghanistan President Ashaf Ghani. The surprise trip is the first such trip by either Mr Pence or his boss, President Donald Trump, in Afghanistan. He later returned to Bagram, where he addressed troops and received military briefings from officials, including General John Nicholson, the top military officer in Afghanistan.

The new Afghanistan strategy relies on a regional approach, hoping to develop cooperation with South Asian nations to help weed out al-Qaeda and establish a level of stability there so that American troops may eventually be able to leave the area.

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The new strategy is an explicit memo to the Afghanistan government that American troops may not always provide outsized supplies and capital to the country — and ties US involvement with the willingness of the Afghanistan government to cooperate an contribute the fight on terror there.

There are currently around 15,000 US forces in Afghanistan, after Mr Trump decided to send 3,800 additional troops to help the effort this fall. The Trump administration reportedly plans on infusing hundreds more US Army trainers to the country to help in the efforts there, which could bring the number of troops there to 16,000.

Afghanistan: Between Hope and Fear

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Afghanistan: Between Hope and Fear

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2001

Afghans at the Killi Faizo refugee camp desperately reach for bags of rice being handed out to the thousands who escaped the bombardment in southern Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom. (Chaman, Pakistan, December 4, 2001)

Paula Bronstein

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2002

Mahbooba stands against a bullet-ridden wall, waiting to be seen at a medical clinic. The seven-year-old girl suffers from leishmaniasis, a parasitical infection. (Kabul, March 1, 2002)

All photos Paula Bronstein

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2003

A mother and her two children look out from their cave dwelling. Many families who, fleeing the Taliban, took refuge inside caves adjacent to Bamiyan’s destroyed ancient Buddha statues now have nowhere else to live. (Bamiyan, November 19, 2003)

Paula Bronstein

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2007

Students recite prayers in a makeshift outdoor classroom in the Wakhan Corridor, a mountainous region in northeastern Afghanistan that extends to China and separates Tajikistan from India and Pakistan. (Northeastern Afghanistan, September 2, 2007)

Paula Bronstein

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2007

Bodybuilders in the 55-60 kg category square off during a regional bodybuilding competition. Many Afghan men, like others around the world, feel that a macho image of physical strength is important. (Kabul, August 6, 2007)

Paula Bronstein

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2008

A woman in a white burqa enjoys an afternoon with her family feeding the white pigeons at the Blue Mosque. (Mazar-e-Sharif, March 8, 2008)

Paula Bronstein

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2009

Addicts inject heroin while trying to keep warm inside the abandoned Russian Cultural Center, which the capital city’s addicts use as a common gathering point. Heroin is readily available, costing about one dollar a hit. (Kabul, February 9, 2009)

Paula Bronstein

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2009

An elderly man holds his granddaughter in their tent at a refugee camp after they were forced to flee their village, which US and NATO forces had bombed because, they claimed, it was a Taliban hideout. (Surobi, Nangarhar Province, February 7, 2009)

Paula Bronstein

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2009

Seven-year-old Attiullah, a patient at Mirwais Hospital, stands alongside an X ray showing the bullet that entered his back, nearly killing him. Attiullah was shot by US forces when he was caught in a crossfire as he was herding sheep. (Kandahar, October 13, 2009).

Paula Bronstein

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2010

US Army Sargeant Jay Kenney (right), with Task Force Destiny, helps wounded Afghan National Army soldiers exit a Blackhawk helicopter after they have been rescued in an air mission. (Kandahar, December 12, 2010)

Paula Bronstein

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2010

An Afghan National Army battalion marches back to barracks at the Kabul Military Training Center. (Kabul, October 4, 2010)

Paula Bronstein

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2014

Eid Muhammad, seventy, lives in a house with a view overlooking the hills of Kabul. He and millions of other Afghans occupy land and housing without possessing formal deeds to them. (Kabul, November 21, 2014)

Paula Bronstein

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2014

Razima holds her two-year-old son, Malik, while waiting for medical attention at the Boost Hospital emergency room. (Lashkar Gah, Helmand Province, June 23, 2014)

Paula Bronstein

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2014

Young women cheer as they attend a rally for the Afghan presidential candidate Ashraf Ghani. (Kabul, April 1, 2014)

Paula Bronstein

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2014

Burqa-clad women wait to vote after a polling station runs out of ballots. (Kabul, April 5, 2014)

Paula Bronstein

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2015

Relatives, friends, and women’s rights activists grieve at the home of Farkhunda Malikzada, who was killed by a mob in the center of Kabul. Farkhunda was violently beaten and set on fire after a local cleric accused her of burning a Qur’an. (Kabul, March 22, 2015)

Paula Bronstein

Other top US officials, including Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis have recently visited Afghanistan as well. Mr Mattis’ trip there illustrated how strained the situation in Afghanistan has become, after the Taliban launched rockets at the Kabul airport, nearly hitting Mr Mattis’ plane.

The United States responds with air strikes against the Taliban.

More about:

Mike Pence

Donald Trump

Afghanistan

Rex Tillerson

James Mattis

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Original Link: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-politics/mike-pence-donald-trump-latest-lands-afghanistan-surprise-trip-changes-war-strategy-a8123591.html

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