President Donald Trump addressed reports alleging the United States would pull several thousand soldiers out of Iraq, saying its not going to happen in the near future while stressing that the country would suffer following the death of Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani.
“Its the worst thing that could happen to Iraq” for the U.S. to withdraw now, Trump told reporters in the White House as he met with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.
“That would mean that Iran would have a much bigger foothold” in the country, Trump said, adding that he believes the Iraqi people wouldnt want to see Iran overseeing their affairs. “Theyre neighbors,” he said.
Trump, who has long been a critic of the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, again said that his administration would like to see the country handle its own security.
“At some point, we want to get out, but this isnt the right point,” the president added. He said the United States would want to be reimbursed for the cost of the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad as well as other costs related to fighting the ISIS terrorist group.
There were questions about whether the U.S. would leave Iraq after a letter surfaced that appeared to tell military officials in Iraq that American forces were moving to depart the country. But Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Army General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, both stressed on Monday and Tuesday that it was a draft letter that should have never been sent.
Trump said he knew nothing about the letter but suggested it was a hoax.