At a press conference Saturday afternoon in the White House briefing room, President TrumpDonald TrumpHillicon Valley — Presented by Xerox — Twitter's algorithm boosts right-leaning content, internal study finds Ohio Democrat calls Vance an 'ass----' over Baldwin tweet Matt Taibbi says Trump's rhetoric caused public perception of US intelligence services to shift MORE said that he will be meeting personally with Taliban leaders in the "in the not-too-distant future.”
The press conference, which was scheduled to address the state of the coronavirus outbreak, came the day the U.S. signed a deal with Taliban leaders to incrementally withdraw troops from Afghanistan.
Trump began by congratulating Secretary of State Mike PompeoMike PompeoThe CIA's next mission: Strategic competition with China and Russia Biden, Trump tied in potential 2024 match-up: poll Why is Trump undermining his administration's historic China policies? MORE, Defense Secretary Mark EsperMark EsperTrump Defense chief blocked idea to send 250,000 troops to border: report Overnight Defense & National Security — Afghanistan concerns center stage with G-20 US Army investigating raising of Confederate flag at base in Germany MORE and “the people of the United States for having spent so much in terms of blood, in terms of treasure, and treasury.”
Trump said that the role of U.S. troops in Afghanistan should not be “law enforcement,” and the deal switches that responsibility to the Taliban.
“I’m going to be personally meeting with Taliban leaders in the not too distant future. We’ll be very much hoping that they will be doing what they say they’re going to be doing — they will be killing terrorists,” Trump said. “It’s time after all these years to bring our people back home.”
The deal, signed by U.S. special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad and the Taliban’s political chief, Abdul Ghani Baradar, in Doha, Qatar on Saturday, seeks to to end America’s longest war. The U.S. agreed to begin the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan, and in return, the Taliban has assured it will not house terrorists with intentions of attacking the United States on Afghan soil.
The agreement incrementally reduces the amount of United States troops in Afghanistan from 12,000 troops currently to 8,600 troops in 135 days. The remaining troops will continue to fight terrorist groups such as ISIS and al Qaeda.
The move by the administration was met with skepticism by some GOP lawmakers. Trump said at the Saturday press conference that the U.S. is ready to return troops if the Taliban does not fulfill its end of the deal.
"I really believe that the Taliban wants to do something to show that we're not all wasting time," Trump said, adding that "if bad things happen we'll go back."