U.S. President Donald Trump said on Wednesday that the American presence in the Middle East should be reduced, adding that Israel is one of the main reasons U.S. troops remain in the region.
In an interview with the Washington Post, Trump floated the idea of removing U.S. troops from the Middle East, citing the lower price of oil as a reason to withdraw.
”Now, are we going to stay in that part of the world? One reason to is Israel,” Trump said. “Oil is becoming less and less of a reason because we’re producing more oil now than we’ve ever produced. So, you know, all of a sudden it gets to a point where you don’t have to stay there.”
Since being elected in 2016, Trump has stated several times that he would like to pull U.S. troops out of Syria, saying he would do so only after the Islamic State group was defeated. More recently, he said he would remove U.S. troops from Syria on condition that Iran withdraws its forces from the war-torn country.
Commenting on the murder last month of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Trump questioned the CIA’s assessment that Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the assassination, and defended his decision to maintain close ties with the oil-rich Persian Gulf kingdom.
While intelligence assessments are rarely ironclad, the CIA based its overall conclusions on Mohammed’s role on several pieces of compelling evidence, including intercepted communications and surveillance from inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, where Khashoggi was killed, as well as its analysis of the prince’s control over the Saudi government, the Washington Post said.
”Maybe he did and maybe he didn’t, but he denies it. And people around him deny it. And the CIA did not say affirmatively he did it either, by the way. I’m not saying that they’re saying he didn’t do it, but they didn’t say it affirmatively,” Trump said.
Trump said he may meet with the crown prince on the sidelines of the G-20 summit, though according to the Washington Post, no formal meeting has been scheduled.
Trump also said he might cancel his scheduled meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G-20 summit in Argentina later this week over Russia’s maritime clash with Ukraine.
Asked whether he thought Putin was within his rights to capture three Ukrainian ships and their crews in the Black Sea on Sunday, Trump said he was awaiting a “full report” from his national security team.
“That will be very determinative,” Trump said. ”Maybe I won’t have the meeting. Maybe I won’t even have the meeting.”
Asked whether Russia’s aggression is a cause for concern for the American people, Trump told the Post, “I don’t like that aggression. I don’t want that aggression at all. Absolutely. And by the way, Europe shouldn’t like that aggression. And Germany shouldn’t like that aggression.”
He also dismissed a federal report released last week saying global warming was wreaking havoc on the United States.
”I don’t see” climate change as man-made, he said, adding, ”One of the problems that a lot of people like myself, we have very high levels of intelligence but we’re not necessarily such believers. You look at our air and our water, and it’s right now at a record clean.”