President Donald Trump made clear in a television interview that he wants to reduce US military engagement in Syria and Afghanistan, but said he was willing to keep a USA military base in Iraq so that Washington can keep a close eye on Iran.
U.S. officials have been holding talks in Qatar with the Taliban on a framework for peace negotiations, raising prospects for a breakthrough in the 17-year-old conflict. "We can come back very quickly, and I'm not leaving [the Middle East.] We have a base in Iraq and the base is a fantastic edifice". Brennan highlighted Trump's public disagreement with members of the intelligence community about the need to keep US forces in Syria to fight the remnants of the Islamic State.
When asked whether he planned to use U.S. forces in Iraq to "strike" Iran, Trump responded: "No ... all I want to do is be able to watch".
President Donald Trump took aim at some usual suspects in his Super Bowl pre-game interview with CBS News, tearing into Rep. Nancy Pelosi and players who disrespect the flag by kneeling in protest during the national anthem, and questioning those who are second-guessing his decision to pull American troops out of both Syria and Afghanistan.
Trump also indicated that he is not in sync with the assessment of his intelligence chief on the nuclear weapons programme of North Korea.
And if the threat becomes a full-blown resurgence again, the U.S. can always come back, he argued. "I mean I was there recently, and I couldn't believe the money that was spent on these massive runways", he said. We might as well keep it.
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One concern of Washington is that Iran is looking to build a crescent of influence spanning Iraq and Syria, reaching the Mediterranean.
He did not give a timetable for the planned American withdrawal from Syria and said that some would be stationed in the base in Iraq. "And one of the reasons I want to keep it is because I want to be looking a little bit at Iran because Iran is a real problem", he said.
"No", Trump replied. "Because I want to be able to watch Iran". "All I want to do is be able to watch", he claimed. "It's perfectly situated for looking at all over different parts of the troubled Middle East rather than pulling up".
"I'll leave intelligence there and if I see nests forming, I'll do something about it", he said, adding that the Taliban "want peace".
Asserting that there has been a tremendous progress in the ties between the United States and the North Korea, Trump said both he and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un are looking forward to the scheduled meeting between them, the exact date and venue of which will be announced in the next few days. "So when my intelligence people tell me how wonderful Iran is -- if you don't mind, I'm going to just go by my own counsel". We're going to be watching, and watching closely.