Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani said that President Donald Trump’s move to kill ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was a more significant event than the 2011 killing of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.
Bin Laden was shot and killed during a Navy SEAL raid in Pakistan in May 2011, 10 years after he played a role in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
“President Trump, people talked a lot about 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 President 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.”
He noted that some 2,298 American soldiers died and more than 20,000 have been wounded during fighting in the country.
“Since President Trump has been President of the United States … only 52 American men and women in uniform have died compared to thousands before. This is a tribute to our joint partnership and to the sacrifice that Afghan soldiers, your brothers and sisters in uniform, are making,” Ghani remarked.
Trump told Americans that peace talks with the Taliban have restarted, months after they were scuppered after the group launched terrorist attacks in Afghanistan.
“We’re going to stay until such time as we have a deal or we have total victory, and they want to make a deal very badly,” the president said. “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 also reiterated his commitment to bring down the total number of soldiers in Afghanistan amid the 18-year-long conflict.
“There’s nowhere I’d rather celebrate this Thanksgiving than right here with the toughest, strongest, best, and bravest warriors on the face of the Earth,” Trump told the soldiers. “I’m here to say Happy Thanksgiving and thank you very much. As president of the United States, I have no higher honor than serving as commander-in-chief.”
He added: “We will continue to work tirelessly for the day when all of you can go home to your families, and that day is coming very soon.”
The Associated Press reported that about 12,000 U.S. soldiers remain in Afghanistan.
During the 2016 election, Trump included a campaign promise to do away with the country’s “endless wars” and has been pushing for troop withdrawals in Afghanistan and the Middle East, saying that other countries should pay their fair share. Years before, he criticized the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003.