Trump discusses Iran, Afghanistan, Hong Kong in marathon press event

President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump: McConnell 'helpless' to stop Biden from packing court Romney on NRSC awarding Trump: Not 'my preference' McConnell sidesteps Trump calling him 'dumb son of a b----' MORE weighed in on the state of affairs in Iran, Afghanistan, Hong Kong and Puerto Rico as part of an unexpected marathon press event Monday.

Over the course of 40 minutes, Trump answered questions about unrest across the globe during a White House visit from the prime minister of Pakistan. The lengthy Q&A session was unusual for Trump, who typically fields questions for 10 or 15 minutes at similar events before reporters are ushered out of the room.


Prime Minister Imran Khan's visit offered an opportunity for the two leaders to discuss the 18-year conflict in neighboring Afghanistan. The Trump administration is engaged with Taliban peace talks aimed at ending the war, and the president suggested Monday he could end the war with a sweeping use of force if he wanted to.

"I could win that war in a week. I just don’t want to kill 10 million people," Trump said. "If I wanted to win that war Afghanistan would be wiped off the face of the earth."

"I don’t want to go that route so we’re working with Pakistan and others to extricate ourselves," he added.

The president showed a little more restraint when speaking about Iran, as tensions between the two countries have escalated in recent weeks. Iran shot down a U.S. drone last month and the U.S. shot down an Iranian drone last week.

Iran has seized oil tankers in the Strait of Hormuz, and on Monday claimed it had detained 17 citizens who confessed to being CIA spies.

Trump, who has been reluctant to intensify the conflict, focused his criticism on Iran's leaders.

"Let’s see what happens with Iran," he said. "We are ready for the absolute worst and we are ready for sense, too. But we are very geared up, and they really are the No. 1 state of terror in the world."

"Frankly, it’s getting harder for me to want to make a deal with Iran because they behave very badly," he added.

Trump was equally critical of Puerto Rico's leaders. Residents in the U.S. territory have mounted sustained protests calling for the ouster of Gov. Ricardo Rosselló amid a corruption scandal involving former members of his administration and messages between him and his top lieutenants containing homophobic and misogynistic slurs.

The president would not say whether thought Rosselló should step down, but took the opportunity to bash his leadership and San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz, who has been a fervent critic of Trump's handling of Hurricane Maria relief.

"Look, he’s a terrible governor," Trump said. "I think you have an even worse mayor of San Juan. I think she’s horrible."

Trump simultaneously defended his administration's response to Hurricane Maria, which is estimated to have killed thousands of residents, and expressed embarrassment that the U.S. had awarded tens of billions of dollars in disaster aid to the island given the recent corruption issues.

"I’m the best thing that ever happened to Puerto Rico," Trump said. "We did a great job in Puerto Rico."

Trump also commented on the weeks-long protests in Hong Kong by offering support for Chinese President Xi Jinping's handling of the mass demonstrations. The two leaders are in the middle of trade negotiations that have dragged on for months.

The protests, which were in response to a since-suspended bill that would allow some citizens to be extradited to China, have grown increasingly tense and turned violent on Monday when masked men attacked demonstrators with sticks and metal bars.

Trump suggested he saw nothing wrong with the Chinese government's handling of the demonstrations, which he described as being "relatively non-violent."

"I don’t think China has stopped them. China could stop them if they wanted," he said.

"I think President Xi of China has acted responsibly, very responsibly," he added. "I hope that President Xi will do the right thing but it has been going on a long time."