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Trump to slow down US withdrawal from Syria, says top Republican

Punjab News Express | December 31, 2018 12:58 PM

WASHINGTON:  A senior Republican senator has said President Donald Trump has agreed to reevaluate, for now, his plans to immediately withdraw all US troops from Syria as he had promised to finish the job of destroying the Islamic State in the war-torn country.

"I think we're slowing things down in a smart way... But the goal has always been the same. To be able to leave Syria and make sure the IS never comes back," Senator Lindsey Graham told reporters at the White House after having a lunch with the President on Sunday.

"I think we're in a pause situation where we are reevaluating what's the best way to achieve the President's objective of having people pay more and do more," said the South Carolina Republican who has been a vocal critic of Trump's plan for a 30-day troop withdrawal of American troops from Syria.

Talking to CNN after his appearance in the White House driveway, Graham said he didn't mean to suggest that the President was pausing troop withdrawal altogether. Trump has not reversed his decision to withdraw troops from Syria, he said.

"The pause is to assess the effects of the conditions on the ground."

The White House did not clarify whether Trump had come to a new determination about the Syria withdrawal plan, which drew widespread criticism from his allies and prompted Defence Secretary Jim Mattis to resign on December 20.

National Security Adviser John Bolton is scheduled to travel to Israel and Turkey early in the new year to discuss the decision with partners in the region.

Graham said that during the President's surprise trip to Iraq last week, commanders on the ground informed Trump that the IS was not "completely destroyed", which he said was an "eye-opening" experience for the Commander-in-Chief, CNN reported.

"The President assured me he is going to make sure he gets the job done. He promised to destroy the IS.

"He's going to keep that promise. We're not there yet. But as I said today, we're inside the 10-yard line, and the President understands the need to finish the job," said the senator.

Graham said he felt "a lot better" after his lunch with the President. "I feel better about Syria than I felt before I had lunch. The President is taking this really seriously. The trip to Iraq was well timed."

Before meeting Trump on Sunday, Graham had said that withdrawing US troops from Syria could directly result in the deaths of Kurdish people there.

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