U.S. President Donald Trump answered questions at a White House news conference with French President Emmanuel Macron at his side about America's future role in Syria. Trump delivered a deeply muddled and contradictory response, claiming the U.S. would "leave a strong and lasting footprint" while repeatidly claiming the U.S. was leaving very soon.
Macron told reporters he and Trump now agree that the Syria problem involves more than Trump’s priority of ridding the country of Islamic State extremists. The two leaders indicated that they see Syria as part of a broader issue of instability in the Middle East, which includes Iran’s role in Syria and Iraq.
Read Trump's full explanation of his Syria policy here:
"As far as Syria is concerned, I would love to get out. I would love to bring our incredible warriors back home. They’ve done a great job; we’ve essentially just absolutely obliterated ISIS in Iraq, and in Syria. And we’ve done a big favor to neighboring countries, frankly, but we’ve also done a favor for our country.
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With that being said, Emmanuel and myself have discussed the fact that we don’t want to give Iran open season to the Mediterranean, especially since we really control it to a large extent. We really have controlled it, and we’ve set control on it.
So we’ll see what happens. But we’re going to be coming home relatively soon. We finished, at least almost, our work with respect to ISIS in Syria, ISIS in Iraq. And we have done a job that nobody has been able to do. With that being said, I do want to come home, but I want to come home also with having accomplished what we have to accomplish."
Syria's chief opposition negotiator said the United States cannot afford to leave Syria as it has yet to achieve any of its goals in the region, even though President Donald Trump said recently Washington would withdraw its troops.
"I personally think the U.S. is not capable of withdrawing its fighters from Syria," Nasr Hariri told Reuters on Friday.
Reuters and the Associated Press contributed to this report