WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump huddles with his national security team on Friday to try to agree on a strategy for Afghanistan which includes options ranging from a pullout or reduction of US forces to a modest troop increase.

It was unclear if the meeting at Camp David, in Maryland’s Catoctin Mountains, would overcome internal divisions. Trump’s national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, and some military commanders favor a troop hike, while “anti-globalists” led by White House chief strategist Steven Bannon and allies back withdrawing U.S. forces, US officials said.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis on Thursday appeared to play down expectations Trump would make a final decision.

“We will move this toward a decision,” Mattis said during a news conference with Japanese ministers. “We are coming very close to a decision and I anticipate it in the very near future.”

US officials told Reuters options being presented to Trump on Friday range from a total pullout from Afghanistan, keeping the status quo of some 8,400 U.S. troops, a modest hike, or a small reduction that would focus on counter-terrorism operations enhanced by drone strikes and intelligence-gathering, they said.

Most top aides backed the third choice at a mid-July meeting. Under this plan, about 3,000 to 5,000 additional US and coalition soldiers would be sent and US troops could embed with Afghan forces at the brigade level, they said.—Reuters