President Trump said Tuesday that he still wants to withdrawal U.S. troops from Syria but also wants to leave a lasting “footprint” on the war-torn county.
“We are going to be coming home relatively soon,” Mr. Trump said at a joint press conference with French President Emmanuel Macron.
Mr. Macron has been pressing Mr. Trump to slow the pullout of U.S. troops to prevent Syria from becoming a breeding ground for terrorism.
Earlier this month, Mr. Trump signaled a troop withdrawal was imminent. Those plans appeared shelved when the U.S. with France and the U.K. launched missile strikes April 13 on Syria’s chemical weapons facilities, retaliating against the government’s use of chemical weapons on rebel-held territory.
The U.S. currently has about 2,000 troops in Syria supporting the militias battling the Islamic State or ISIS. The U.S. mission is supposed to be distinct from rebel forces battling the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad. ISIS has been largely wiped out in Syria.
“We’ve finished with ISIS and we are going to be making some big decisions in a short period of time,” said Mr. Trump.
He said that he would continue discussions with Mr. Macron before announcing those decisions.
Mr. Trump is hosting Mr. Macron in the administration’s first state visit. Mr. Macron is in Washington for three days, including a state dinner Tuesday and an address to a joint session of Congress on Wednesday.