U.S. President Donald Trump welcomed Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi to the White House on Thursday. Both leaders held strategic talks expected to shape the future of Iraq-US ties.
READ MORE: Sitting alongside the new Iraqi prime minister in the Oval Office, President Donald Trump promised that thousands of U.S. troops in his guest’s country will “be getting out” and “we’ll be leaving shortly,” but there was no announcement of a specific time frame.
“At some point, we obviously will be gone. We’ve brought it down to a very, very low level,” the president said in response to questions from reporters. “We look forward to the day when we don’t have to be there, and hopefully, Iraq can live their own lives and they can defend themselves, which they’ve been doing long before we got involved."
Pressed by journalists for a declaration of a deadline, Trump deferred to his secretary of state, who was in the room.
"As soon as we can complete the mission,” Mike Pompeo responded. “The president has made very clear he wants to get our forces down to the lowest level as quickly as we possibly can. That’s the mission he’s given us, and we’re working with the Iraqis to achieve that."
The United States has about 5,000 troops in Iraq tasked with counterterrorism operations and training Iraqi security forces.