Vice President Mike Pence told Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on a secret visit Thursday to Afghanistan that the US is "here to see this through" as they discussed a newly announced US strategy to break the stalemate in America's longest war and consulted on upcoming parliamentary elections.
Pence's surprise pre-Christmas visit was the first to the war-torn country by either Trump or the vice president, and it came as the Trump administration charts a pathway to ending the 16-year war in Afghanistan.
"We're here to see this through," Pence told Ghani and Afghan Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah at the presidential palace in Kabul, arriving after a helicopter ride through smoky, dark skies surrounding Afghanistan's capital.
Later, at a rally-style event at Bagram Air Base, Pence told hundreds of US troops: "I believe victory is closer than ever before."
"It's because of all of you that we're safe. It's because of you that we're free. It's because of you that freedom has a future in Afghanistan and America and all across the wider world," Pence said.