Trump wants forces in Syria to come home, Macron says he persuaded Trump otherwise

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Trump wants forces in Syria to come home, Macron says he persuaded Trump otherwise
FILE PHOTO - American army vehicles drive north of Manbij city, in Aleppo Governorate, Syria March 9, 2017. REUTERS/Rodi Said

WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump still wants U.S. forces in Syria to return home as soon as possible, the White House said on Sunday, after French President Emmanuel Macron said he had convinced Trump to keep a U.S. presence there for “the long term.”
“The U.S. mission has not changed — the president has been clear that he wants U.S. forces to come home as quickly as possible,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said in a statement.
“We are determined to completely crush ISIS and create the conditions that will prevent its return. In addition we expect our regional allies and partners to take greater responsibility both militarily and financially for securing the region,” she said.
Meanwhile, French President Emmanuel Macron has that said he had convinced U.S. President Donald Trump to keep troops in Syria for the long term and limit joint strikes to chemical weapons facilities.
“We convinced him it was necessary to stay for the long term,” Macron said in an interview broadcast by BFM TV, RMC radio and Mediapart online news.
“We also persuaded him that we needed to limit the strikes to chemical weapons (sites), after things got a little carried away over tweets,” he said.
While it is unusual for a French president to present himself as driving U.S. policy in military matters in the Middle East, Macron and Trump have developed a friendly relationship over the past year.
Macron invited Trump to assist to Bastille day celebrations last year and will travel to Washington on a state visit later this month.
Saturday’s strikes on Syria were the first major military operation since Macron’s election in May last year.
He reaffirmed that there was proof of chemical attacks, adding: “We had reached a point where these strikes were necessary to give back the (international) community some credibility.”
Macron said that failing so far to get the red lines respected had led Russian authorities to think of Western powers that “these people from the international community – they are nice, they are weak”.
“He (Russian President Vladimir Putin) has understood it’s not the case anymore.”
Macron added that Russia, which backs Assad politically and militarily, had made itself complicit in the Syrian government’s actions.
“Of course they are complicit. They have not used chlorine themselves but they have methodically built the international community’s inability to act through diplomatic channels to stop the use of chemical weapons,” he said of Russia.
The French president nevertheless said he wanted to engage in dialogue with all parties involved, including Moscow, in order to find a political solution for Syria. There are no changes to his planned trip to Russia next month, he said.
Macron had warmer words for Turkey. “With those strikes we have separated the Russians and the Turks on this. The Turks condemned the chemical weapons.”
Macron added that the strikes on Syria had been “perfectly carried out”.
“All of our missiles reached their target,” he said.
Macron, criticised by the far-left and far-right and part of the conservatives over the attacks, said France, Britain and the United States had “complete international legitimacy to act.” – Reuters

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