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Trump: 'We don't want to be taken advantage of'

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US President Donald Trump, accompanied by First Lady Melania Trump, addresses US troops in an Iraq military base, 27 December REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

In a surprise visit to a military base in Iraq, President Donald Trump defended pulling US troops out of multinational alliances. Countries that use America's incredible military would need to pay, he said.


This was President Donald Trump's first visit to visit US troops in a conflict zone since being elected.  He defended defend the withdrawal from Syria and declare an end to America's role as the global "policeman."

Trump landed at 7:16 pm local time at Al-Asad Air Base in western Iraq, accompanied by his wife Melania, following what he described as a stressful, secrecy shrouded flight on a "pitch black" Air Force One.

The president spoke to a group of about 100 mostly special forces personnel and separately with military leaders before leaving a few hours later.

White House video showed a smiling Trump shaking hands with camouflage-clad personnel, signing autographs and posing for photos at the base in Iraq.

U.S. President Donald Trump delivers remarks to U.S. troops in an unannounced visit to Al Asad Air Base, Iraq December 26, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

"We're in countries most people haven't heard of!"

At the Iraqi military base, Trump sought to defend his "America First" policy of pulling back from multinational alliances, including what to many Americans seem like the endless wars of the Middle East.

"It's not fair when the burden is all on us," he said. "We don't want to be taken advantage of any more by countries that use us and use our incredible military to protect them. They don't pay for it and they're going to have to."

"We are spread out all over the world. We are in countries most people haven't even heard about. Frankly, it's ridiculous," he added.

Trump told reporters he had overruled generals asking to extend the Syria deployment, where about 2,000 US forces, joined by other foreign troops, assist local fighters battling the Islamic State jihadist group.

"You can't have any more time. You've had enough time," he said he told the top brass.