President Trump is defending his decision to pull U.S. troops out of Syria, saying, "It's not our problem," and that "they've got a lot of sand over there. There's a lot of sand they can play with."
He said the U.S.'s longtime ally the Kurds are "much safer right now," and added, "They're not angels."
Trump's sudden pullback of U.S. forces from northern Syria, which has led to an incursion by Turkey into the region aimed at the Kurds has been criticized by lawmakers on both parties. Congressional leaders will meet with the president later Wednesday to discuss a possible resolution of disapproval and a package of economic sanctions aimed at punishing Turkey.
Trump spoke at a photo opportunity before meeting with Italian President Sergio Mattarella on Wednesday. The two are also holding a joint news conference.
The press conference comes during a week full of depositions for the House impeachment inquiry into Trump. The president has dismissed the effort — including scrutiny of Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani — as a partisan witch hunt.
In announcing Mattarella's visit, the White House said Trump and the Italian president "will celebrate the strong and enduring historical ties between the United States and Italy, which underpin our bilateral relationship." They are expected to discuss trade and security.
The press conference also follows the Democratic primary debate in Ohio on Tuesday night, which opened with a question about the impeachment inquiry. The inquiry formally began after revelations that Trump had asked the president of Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, a potential political opponent in 2020.