WASHINGTON — President Trump said at a press conference with Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni today that he does “not see a role in Libya” for the United States, then said eradicating ISIS could take the U.S. to the North Africa country.
Gentiloni noted that “America has played a very key role, first of all, to prevent the consolidation of important bases for terrorism while Daesh was undergoing defeat in Iraq and Syria,” including operations by local forces assisted by U.S. strikes that drove ISIS out of their Libyan stronghold in Sirte.
“Now, the commitment must be political, and therefore in the cooperation between the U.S. and Italy and other key partners in the region, the goal is to broaden the basis of the consensus for the Tripoli government, which is recognized by the international community, but which must be able to count on a broader consensus,” Gentiloni said.
“I believe that one clear goal should be this: We need the region, and we need countries like Egypt and Tunisia that are close to Libya, we need a stable and unified Libya. A divided country and in conflict would make civility worse,” the prime minister added. “The U.S. role in this is very critical.”
Trump countered that “the United States has right now enough roles” around the world.
“We’re in a role everywhere. So I do not see that,” the president said. “I do see a role in getting rid of ISIS. We’re being very effective in that regard. We are doing a job with respect to ISIS that has not been done anywhere near the numbers that we’re producing right now. It’s a — it’s a very effective force we have. We have no choice. It’s a horrible thing to say, but we have no choice.”
“And we are effectively ridding the world of ISIS,” he continued. “I see that as a primary role, and that’s what we’re going to do, whether it’s in Iraq or in Libya or anywhere else. And that role will come to an end at a certain point. And we’ll be able to go back home and rebuild our country, which is what I want to do.”
Pressed on the future of the European Union by an Italian reporter, given Trump’s past support for Brexit, the commander in chief said “a strong Europe is very, very important to me as president of the United States.”
“And it’s also, in my opinion — in my very strong opinion, important for the United States. We want to see it,” Trump added. “We will help it be strong, and it’s very much to everybody’s advantage.”
Asked by an American reporter about the results of the Turkish referendum that increased the powers of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, a victory for which Trump called his Turkish counterpart to offer congratulations, Gentiloni assured that “European leadership have taken note of the vote.”
“The consequences will depend a great deal on how the Turkish government, and President Erdoğan especially, will take into account almost half of the population’s expression of a different opinion,” the prime minister said. “Will there be an inclusive approach? Or will there be a confrontation in this part of Turkey? This will be very important.”