Trump at Camp David to meet with top national security team

By Allen Cone  |  Aug. 18, 2017 at 2:25 PM
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Aug. 18 (UPI) -- Still technically on vacation, President Donald Trump on Friday departed for Camp David for a high-level meet with his national security team to discuss various issues -- including future military plans in Afghanistan.

Trump left his golf club in Bedminster, N.J., Friday morning -- where he's been staying for vacation this month-- for the presidential retreat in Maryland's Catoctin Mountains, 60 miles northwest of Washington.

The White House said Trump would meet with Defense Secretary James Mattis, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster. Vice President Mike Pence cut short a trip in South America to attend the meeting.

"Heading to Camp David for major meeting on National Security, the Border and the Military (which we are rapidly building to strongest ever)," Trump posted on Twitter Friday.

Mattis said Thursday that the Trump administration is finishing a strategy for Afghanistan, where more than 2,400 American troops have been killed since 2001.

At the end of 2014, then-President Barack Obama formally ended combat operations in Afghanistan -- but some 8,400 U.S. troops remain there in a security capacity.

Gen. John Nicholson, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, wants several thousand additional troops for the war against the Taliban, the Islamic State and other insurgent groups in the battle-scarred Middle Eastern country. They would provide a support role for Afghan forces.

Alternate options include a full-scale withdrawal, or a plan to send more private contractors to Afghanistan.

The national security team is also expected to discuss dealing with North Korea, which has become more tense in recent weeks since the regime test-launched two inter-continental ballistic missiles. Analysts believe North Korea has produced a miniaturized nuclear warhead that can fit onto a missile with the capability of striking the United States mainland.

Trump has vowed "fire and fury" on the country if its threats against the United States continue.

Before leaving for Camp David Friday, Trump vowed in a series of tweets tougher domestic security after Thursday's terrorist attack in Barcelona, Spain.

"Homeland security and law enforcement are on alert & closely watching for any sign of trouble. Our borders are far tougher than ever before!" he wrote.

A short time later, he tweeted, "the Obstructionist Democrats make Security for our country very difficult. They use the courts and associated delay at all times. Must stop!"

"Radical Islamic Terrorism must be stopped by whatever means necessary! The courts must give us back our protective rights. Have to be tough!"

News media were not allowed to accompany the president to Camp David.

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