Former U.S. President Donald Trump at a rally in Fort Dodge, Iowa, on Saturday hinted at the possibility of striking a trade deal with the Taliban if re-elected in 2024, expressing a desire to regain control of Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan.
He criticized the decision to hand over control of Bagram Airfield to Afghan forces after the United States left the military facility on July 2, 2021, ahead of the full withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan on August 30.
Trump voiced discontent with the base now being occupied by China, claiming its proximity to China’s nuclear missile production.
“We were going to keep Bagram. Bagram is the biggest base just about there is, anywhere in the world,” He said.
Expressing concern about China’s activities, Trump asserted, “I wanted it because that’s one hour away from where China makes their nuclear missiles, and we gave it up. Now, you know who occupies it? China. How stupid are these people? It’s so sad.”
Despite the diplomatic challenges with the Taliban, driven from power by the U.S. in 2001 for harboring 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden, Trump suggested regaining control of Bagram Airfield through a potential trade deal with Afghanistan. He stated, “But we’ll get it back. We’ll get it back, maybe we’ll get it back as part of a trade deal. Give us back that damn airport.”
Bagram Airfield, once the largest U.S. military base in Afghanistan, was secretly evacuated in July 2021 and subsequently handed back to the Afghan government before falling to Taliban rebel forces on August 15, 2021.
Trump’s visit to Iowa is part of his fall campaign to rally supporters and volunteers ahead of the state’s upcoming caucuses, marking the beginning of the race for the Republican presidential nomination.