Tuesday, 17 September, 2019

Trump commemorates 9/11 attacks at Pentagon ceremony

Trump attends a briefing with senior military leaders in the Cabinet Room of the White House on Oct. 5 2017 Trump attends a briefing with senior military leaders in the Cabinet Room of the White House on Oct. 5 2017
Patty Aguilar | 12 September, 2019, 17:30

Earlier this month, the president canceled a planned meeting with Taliban officials at the Camp David presidential retreat near Frederick, Md.

Trump was joined by First Lady Melania Trump at the ceremony, during which a Navy bell tolled 184 times as the names were read off of the 184 who lost their lives lost when American Flight 77 slammed into the building's west front at 530 miles per hour on September 11, 2001. Warning terrorist groups of any such misadventure in future, Trump said, "And I'm not even talking about nuclear power".

The peace negotiations - which were in their final stages, only requiring a final sign-off from both parties - were meant to smooth the United States withdrawal from Afghanistan and ensure the Taliban did not use the country as a terrorist "safe haven".

Now about 14,000 USA troops remain and Trump has called it "ridiculous" that they are still in Afghanistan after so long and so many billions of dollars spent. In his address at the Pentagon memorial, Trump said, "18 years ago, the terrorists struck this citadel of power and American strength, but the enemies soon learned that they could not weaken the spirit of our people".

Members of Congress held their own moment of silence on Capitol Hill.

In what has become an annual tradition, relatives read out the long list of those who were killed, saying a few words about each victim, in a ceremony that took nearly four hours.

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He said: "What they did was disgusting, they killed an American soldier".

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, Mayor Bill de Blasio, and his predecessors Michael Bloomberg and Rudy Giuliani were among those who attended.

Trump and First Lady Melania Trump welcomed victims' families and survivors to the White House where they marked the anniversary with a moment of silence before the president headed to the Pentagon for his speech.

"We had two ways to end the occupation in Afghanistan. Should the Taliban ever have been invited to come and set foot on the continental United States?"

The number of USA troops peaked at around 100,000 but began to drop steadily after Bin Laden was killed in 2011.

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