President Trump told Fox News' "The Ingraham Angle" in an exclusive interview Friday that he believes Iraq should pay back the United States for its investments in the country over the past several years or the American military will "stay there."
"I said, 'If we leave, you got to pay us,'" Trump told host Laura Ingraham. "'If we leave ... you have to pay us for the money we put in.'"
When Ingraham asked how Trump planned to collect money from Iraq, the president said: "Well, we have a lot of their money right now. We have a lot of their money. We have $35 billion of their money right now sitting in an account. And I think they’ll agree to pay. I think they’ll agree to pay. Otherwise, we’ll stay there."
Earlier this week, Iraq's outgoing prime minister, Adel Abdul-Mahdi, called for American troops to leave the country to avoid further tensions with Iran.
Mahdi's comments came the day after Iranian Quds Force Gen. Qassem Soleimani was killed in a U.S. drone strike at Baghdad's airport. A senior Iraqi commander of an Iran-backed militia was also killed.
Trump had tweeted last week: "The United States has paid Iraq Billions of Dollars a year, for many years. That is on top of all else we have done for them. The people of Iraq don’t want to be dominated & controlled by Iran, but ultimately, that is their choice. Over the last 15 years, Iran has gained more and more control over Iraq, and the people of Iraq are not happy with that. It will never end well!"
"We built one of the world's most expensive airport facilities, anywhere in the world," Trump told Ingraham Friday. "I mean, I wish we had it in New York. I wish we had it in Washington. We build runways that are 15,000 feet long ... In fact, I think they're 20,000 feet long over there ... Nobody ever built runways like this ... But we have billions of dollars into that."
The president also repeated his claim that countries like Saudi Arabia and South Korea were paying the U.S. to have American service members in the country.
"They’ve already deposited $1 billion in the bank," Trump said of the Saudis. "South Korea gave us $500 million ... I said, 'You got to help us along. We have 32,000 soldiers in South Korea protecting it from North Korea. You’ve got to pay.' And they gave us $500 million."
Fox News' Louis Casiano contributed to this report.