The White House said Trump and Macron talked about “plans for a strong, deliberate, and coordinated withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria” as the Trump administration tempers the timetable for American forces leaving the war-torn country.
Trump earlier Monday denied that he’s altered the timeline on a U.S. withdrawal from Syria. Trump caught allies and lawmakers off-guard last month in announcing plans for a withdrawal. Administration officials said at the time troops would begin leaving Syria in 30 days.
On Sunday, national security adviser John Bolton said U.S. forces would not leave Syria until the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is fully defeated and the Trump administration receives assurances that U.S.-backed Kurdish fighters will be protected. The conditions provided the clearest indication yet that a withdrawal is not imminent.
The president on Monday also held a call with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the White House said. The two men discussed plans to strengthen economic ties and “increase cooperation in Afghanistan.”
Trump has signaled a desire to bring an end to the 17-year war in Afghanistan, but the White House said late last month the president has not ordered troop withdrawals from the country. There are currently more than 14,000 U.S. service members in Afghanistan.
Trump last week mocked Modi for his administration’s construction of a library in Afghanistan, part of India’s efforts to invest in Afghanistan’s economy and military.
Trump on Monday held a call with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as well, where they spoke about the detention of two Canadian citizens in China and trade issues, the White House said.
Trudeau’s office said in a statement that the two leaders agreed to continue to seek the release of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, who were taken into custody last month.
Their detention raised concerns, as it came shortly after Canada detained Chinese telecommunications executive Meng Wanzhou. Canadian authorities earlier this month arrested Meng at the request of the U.S., which alleged that the Huawei company violated U.S. trade sanctions against Iran.
Trudeau’s office said he and Trump “discussed an extradition request made of Canada by the United States,” an apparent reference to Meng’s arrest. “They reaffirmed the importance of respecting judicial independence and the rule of law.”
The two leaders also talked about the steel and aluminum tariffs Trump imposed against Canada. The move prompted retaliatory measures from Canada.
The two nations have since brokered an agreement on a revised version of NAFTA, dubbed the U.S. Mexico Canada Agreement. Congress has yet to ratify the revised deal.