Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman told Time Magazine on Friday that the kingdom wants the United States to maintain its presence in Syria to contain Iran. “We believe American troops should stay for at least the mid-term,” he explained.

Bin Salman

Bin Salman Photo Credit: EPA-EFE

A day after US President Donald Trump said that Washington would likely withdraw its troops from Syria in the near future, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said that the American forces should maintain their presence in the war-torn Arab country.

“We believe American troops should stay for at least the mid-term, if not the long-term,” the 32-year-old heir to the throne, who is also the country’s defense minister, told Time Magazine on Friday. According to bin Salman, the American presence in Syria is key to preventing Iran from expanding its influence in the region.

Speaking at a rally in Ohio on Thursday, Trump praised the US-led coalition for “knocking the hell out of ISIS” and added, “We’ll be coming out of Syria like very soon. Let the other people take care of it now.”

“We’re going to have 100% of the caliphate, as they call it – sometimes referred to as “land,’” Trump continued. “But we’re going to be coming out of there real soon. Going to get back to our country, where we belong, where we want to be.”

Bin Salman is currently in the US on a three-week visit. On Thursday, he met with a group of Catholic and Jewish leaders in New York. “The meeting emphasized the common bond among all people, particularly people of faith, which stresses the importance of tolerance, coexistence, and working together for a better future for all of humanity,” the Saudi Embassy in Washington stated.