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US troop pullout from Syria will happen: Pompeo
January 11, 2019
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CAIRO: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Thursday that a full US troop withdrawal from Syria announced by President Donald Trump last month will go ahead despite widespread criticism.

The US top diplomat made his remarks while on a whistlestop tour of the Middle East to address the concerns of regional allies about the surprise pullout plan.

“President Trump’s decision to withdraw our troops has been made. We will do that,” Pompeo told a joint press conference in Cairo with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry.

Pompeo vowed the United States and its allies would work diplomatically to expel all Iranian troops from Syria, urging Middle East nations to forge a common stand against Tehran.

“It’s time for old rivalries to end, for the sake of the greater good of the region,” said Pompeo at a keynote address in Cairo.

America “will use diplomacy and work with our partners to expel every last Iranian boot” from Syria and bolster efforts “to bring peace and stability to the long-suffering Syrian people,” he added.

In his address entitled “A Force for Good: America Reinvigorated in the Middle East” at the American University in Cairo, Pompeo also took aim at former president Barack Obama without naming him.

Trump’s predecessor had “grossly underestimated the tenacity and viciousness of militancy,” Pompeo said.

And parroting Obama’s words in his landmark 2009 speech in Cairo, Pompeo vowed that now was really “a new beginning” in ties between the US and the Middle East.

Earlier this week, US National Security Advisor John Bolton laid out conditions for the pullout, including the defeat of the Islamic State group in Syria and gurantees for the safety of Washington’s Kurdish allies in the campaign, who have been threatened with an imminent offensive by Turkey.

Bolton’s comments were widely seen as backtracking on Trump’s announcement.

But Pompeo insisted the two statements were entirely consistent.

“There is no contradiction whatsoever. This is a story made up by the media,” said Pompeo, underscoring Washington’s continuing commitment to preventing any resurgence by Daesh.

From Cairo, Pompeo is scheduled to head to the capitals of the six Gulf Arab states to make his case.

Agencies

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