Trump, alongside Baltic leaders, talks Syria, Mexico
President Trump, taking questions from reporters Tuesday in a joint White House press conference with the leaders of the Baltic States, reiterated his intent to pull U.S. forces out of Syria — and send U.S. troops to the southern border with Mexico.
Moments earlier Tuesday, Mr. Trump blasted Mexico over the North American Free Trade Agreement, praised Mexico’s own immigration laws, and said the U.S. cannot afford to have the “caravans” of people coming through the border. “Until we have the wall,” the U.S. military is necessary, the president said. During the press conference, Mr. Trump said his administration will have a meeting on the subject with Defense Secretary James Mattis “in a little while.” There is some precedent for a military presence at the border — both former President George W. Bush and former President Barack Obama sent the U.S. National Guard to the border, but they had no authority to pursue or detain immigrants.
Mr. Trump made those comments while standing alongside Estonia’s President Kersti Kaljulaid, Latvia’s President Raimonds Vejonis and Lithuania’s President Dalia Grybauskaite, taking questions from both the U.S. and foreign press. The president also repeated his desire to pull U.S. forces out of Syria, something he said last week he wanted to do “very soon.”
But for reporters from the Baltic States, it was the U.S. relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin that was perhaps of the most interest. Mr. Trump, who recently invited Putin to the White House, said it would be great to have a good relationship with Russia, in response to a reporter’s question as to whether he sees Putin as an enemy or someone he can have a dialogue with. Mr. Trump said he believes the two can have a good dialogue, although he isn’t sure a good relationship is certain. Mr. Trump insists he has been tougher on Russia than just about any other president.
Mr. Trump’s press conference also comes as the White House still has no date announced for another diplomatic meeting, the meeting with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un.
See below for updates from earlier.