President Donald Trump left the door open Wednesday to meeting with his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly — even as the United States ramps up the pressure on a regime it accuses of destabilizing the Middle East.
On assassinating Syria’s Assad
Trump, speaking to reporters during a visit with Kuwaiti ruler Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah, also said that if there is a slaughter in the Idlib province of Syria, the United States will be very angry. The Syrian military shelled Idlib, the last stronghold of active rebellion against al-Assad, on Wednesday as a war monitor said insurgents blew up a bridge in anticipation of a government offensive.
Defense Secretary Mattis to keep his job
Asked by reporters at the White House whether he was considering replacing Mattis, Trump said: “He’ll stay right there. We’re very happy with him. We’re having a lot of victories.”
According to the book, “Fear: Trump in the White House,” by the Watergate reporter Bob Woodward,the Republican president told Mattis he wanted to have Syrian President Bashar al-Assad assassinated after Assad launched a chemical attack on civilians in April 2017.
Mattis told Trump he would “get right on it,” but instead developed a plan for a limited air strike that did not threaten Assad personally, according to the excerpts.
Mattis issued a statement dismissing the book as “a uniquely Washington brand of literature” and saying the contemptuous words about Trump attributed to him “were never uttered by me or in my presence.”