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Trump tells Saudi Arabia to pay to keep US troops in Syria

Trump has warned again the US will withdraw from Syria [AFP]

Date of publication: 3 April, 2018

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President Donald Trump has defied criticism on his US troop withdrawal remarks and repeated his plans to pull American soldiers out of Syria.


President Donald Trump has repeated his plans to pull US troops out of Syria, despite criticism of from both the left and right on his withdrawal plan.

During a speech to reporters Tuesday, Trump appeared to urge Saudi Arabia to foot the bill to keep US troops in Syria.

Trump said last week that he was ready to pull American soldiers out of northern Syria "very soon".

He comments surprised government officials and US military top brass who said they had not been briefed on the plans.

US special forces and other units have been aiding Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces defeat the Islamic State group.

Speaking at the White House on Tuesday, the president repeated his aim to pull US troops out of Syria.

"I want to bring our troops back home. I want to start rebuilding our nation," Trump said.

"Our primary mission in terms of that was getting rid of [IS]. We've almost completed that task. We'll be making a decision very quickly."

Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is currently on a tour of the US, and said last week that a troop pull-out would only benefit arch-rival Iran.

Tehran has used the war in Syria to build up its military presence in the country and allegedly open a supply route from Iran to Lebanon, via Syria and Iraq.

During his talk with reporters on Tuesday, Trump said Saudi Arabia might have to foot the bill to keep US troops in Syria.

"Saudi Arabia is very interested in our decision. And I said, well, you know, you want us to stay maybe you'll have to pay."

On Tuesday, Brett McGurk, envoy for the US-led anti-IS coalition said he believed the fight against the jihadis was not yet over.

"We are in Syria to fight [IS]. That is our mission and our mission isn’t over and we are going to complete that mission," he said.

Despite Trump's claims, there were reports that the US military are planning to send more troops to Syria for the next step in the war against IS.

Other senior Republican and military officials have also warned against a hasty pull-out.

Trump has often said that the US pays too much for regional and global security and has demanded allies pay a bigger share in defence spending.

He has frequently criticised NATO members for not paying enough into their defence budgets, saying that the US was paying the lion's share for Europe's security.

Trump has also pressed Saudi Arabia to buy more US weapons, which has seen Riyadh agree record-breaking arms deals with Washington as tensions with Iran remain high.

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