President Donald Trump on Monday claimed he could easily win a war in Afghanistan “in a week,” but doesn’t “want to go that route” because he’d have to “kill 10 million people.”
The president, speaking to reporters alongside visiting Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan, said he wants Pakistan to help “extricate” the U.S. from its longest war. U.S. officials have been trying to negotiate a peace deal with the Afghan Taliban.
“I have plans on Afghanistan that if I wanted to win that war, Afghanistan would be wiped off the face of the earth, it would be gone, it would be over literally in 10 days,” he insisted, adding, “I don’t want to go that route.”
Khan added that right now is “the closest we have been to a peace deal” in Afghanistan, and expressed hope that the Taliban will soon speak with the Afghan government.
Trump also touted his accomplishment of dropping the U.S.’s largest non-nuclear bomb on Afghanistan in 2017, but said he could be “very successful without having to go that route” this time.
“I just don’t want to kill 10 million people. Does that make sense to you? I don’t want to kill 10 million people,” Trump said.
During the freewheeling press conference, Trump also said he has been asked by India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi to serve as a mediator in the Kashmir conflict between Pakistan and India, which he said he would “love” to do.
“I’ve heard so much about Kashmir,” he said. “Such a beautiful name. It’s supposed to be such a beautiful part of the world. But right now there’s just bombs all over the place. They say everywhere you go, you have bombs.”
At one point, reporters steered the conversation to Hong Kong, asking Trump about ongoing protests in the country against a Chinese extradition bill.
Trump insisted that Chinese President Xi Jinping has “acted responsibly” in response to the pro-democracy demonstrators, adding that “China could stop them if they wanted.” His comments come after peaceful protests over the weekend escalated into violence when masked men began to attack the demonstrators, injuring at least 45 people.
Trump also addressed the turmoil in Puerto Rico—where citizens are protesting Governor Ricardo Rosselló—and took shots at his rival and current mayor of San Juan, Carmen Yulín Cruz.
“He’s a terrible governor, and I think you have an even worse major of San Juan. She’s horrible,” Trump said, adding that Cruz was a “horror-show” and “grossly incompetent.”
He commended the citizens of Puerto Rico—and praised himself for being “the best thing that’s ever happened to Puerto Rico.” Trump falsely touted that Congress has given Puerto Rico $92 billion in aid in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, then added that “they haven’t got it all yet” but are scheduled to receive it. As of April, Puerto Rico had only received $11.2 billion in aid from FEMA and other agencies.
Trump also claimed he has “many friends” in Puerto Rico and has a “real understanding” of the island. The president then pointed to the Miss Universe pageant, which Puerto Rico has hosted several times.
“We had them [Miss Universe] in Puerto Rico, and we had tremendous success,” Trump said. “One hundred percent of the island itself was watching. I’m the best thing that ever happened to Puerto Rico.”
Trump waffled on whether he would be tuning in to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s public congressional testimony this week, first telling reporters he would not be watching, then changing his tune to say “probably, maybe I’ll see a little bit of it,” before finally landing on “I’m not going to be watching Mueller because you can’t take all those bites out of the apple.”
Mueller is set to testify on Wednesday before the House Judiciary and House Intelligence committees.