The Latest: Pence wishes troops in Mideast a merry Christmas

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The Latest on Mike Pence's secret trip to Afghanistan (all times local):

2:05 a.m.

Vice President Mike Pence is telling hundreds of U.S. troops at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan that President Donald Trump is committed to "staying in that fight" and seeing it "through to the end."

Pence on Thursday delivered a pre-Christmas address to soldiers serving in Afghanistan and pointed to the president's new strategy in the country.

The vice president noted the sacrifice of American soldiers here since the 2001 invasion and told the troops, "I believe victory is closer than ever before."

Pence says after his meeting with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani that U.S. armed forces will remain engaged in the country until they eliminate the terrorist threat to the U.S. homeland.

He also wished the soldiers a "Merry Christmas."


2 a.m.

Vice President Mike Pence is telling Afghan President Ashraf Ghani that the U.S. is "here to see this through" as they discuss President Donald Trump's new Afghanistan strategy during a surprise visit by the vice president.

Pence is joining Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah for a Thursday evening meeting at the presidential palace in Kabul. Pence arrived by helicopter after landing at Bagram Air Base.

Ghani is offering Pence his thanks on behalf of a grateful nation and pointing to their common bonds.

Pence says the two countries have been "on a long road together" and have sacrificed much during the 16-year war. But Pence says the U.S. is committed to helping Afghanistan achieve peace and security.

The discussions were expected to focus on the implementation of Trump's new Afghanistan strategy and discuss upcoming parliamentary elections and the country's presidential election in 2019.


1:45 a.m.

Vice President Mike Pence has made an unannounced trip to Afghanistan to meet with Afghan leaders and visit U.S. troops.

Pence arrived in Afghanistan four months after President Donald Trump outlined a new strategy to break the stalemate in America's longest war. Pence's surprise visit is the first to the war-torn country by either Trump or the vice president. Pence landed at Bagram Air Base under heavy security on Thursday.

He met with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, as well as U.S. troops and U.S. military leaders.

Trump released his new strategy for ending the 16-year war in Afghanistan in August. The president said U.S. troops would "fight to win" by attacking enemies and crushing terrorists.