KABUL – Former U.S. President Donald Trump suggested the possibility of negotiating a trade deal with the Taliban if re-elected in 2024, aiming to regain control of Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan. Speaking at a rally in Fort Dodge, Iowa, on Saturday, Trump criticized the decision to hand over Bagram Airfield to Afghan forces following the U.S. military’s departure on July 2, 2021, before the complete withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan on August 30.
Expressing discontent with the base’s current occupation by China, Trump highlighted its proximity to China’s nuclear missile production. He lamented the decision to relinquish control, stating, “We were going to keep Bagram. Bagram is the biggest base just about there is, anywhere in the world.”
Voicing concern about China’s activities, Trump emphasized, “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 acknowledging the diplomatic challenges with the Taliban, ousted from power by the U.S. in 2001, Trump proposed the idea of reclaiming Bagram Airfield through a potential trade deal with Afghanistan. He asserted, “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, formerly the largest U.S. military base in Afghanistan, was evacuated in secret in July 2021, handed back to the Afghan government, and subsequently fell to Taliban 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.