Americas

President-elect Trump talks national security, diplomacy with retired Southcom commander

President-elect Donald Trump talks to media as he stands with retired Marine Gen. John Kelly, right, at the Trump National Golf Club Bedminster clubhouse Sunday, Nov. 20, 2016, in Bedminster, N.J.
President-elect Donald Trump talks to media as he stands with retired Marine Gen. John Kelly, right, at the Trump National Golf Club Bedminster clubhouse Sunday, Nov. 20, 2016, in Bedminster, N.J. ASSOCIATED PRESS

Retired Marine Gen. John F. Kelly, who until January was in charge of the Pentagon’s U.S. Southern Command, discussed national security and diplomacy with President-elect Donald Trump during a meeting Sunday, the White House transition team said.

Trump and Kelly “had a frank discussion about the global national security situation in the United States and various areas of conflict in the Middle East,” according to a statement issued by the presidential transition team Sunday night.

“Additionally, they discussed General Kelly’s diplomatic experience during his time as the Commander of the United States Southern Command in Latin America, and as a combat commander in various areas of conflict in the Middle East.”

Kelly, 66, retired earlier this year after handing off Southcom to Adm. Kurt Tidd, ending a 45-year military career. He lived and worked out of South Florida from November 2012 until January.

In July, the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation announced he was chosen as the new, unpaid chairman of the board of the organization that is raising funds for the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Virginia.

There was no word from the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J., where the meeting took place, on what if any position Kelly might hold in the Trump White House.

The Marine Times raised the possibility that Kelly, whose Marine son was killed in Afghanistan in 2010, was being considered for Secretary of State. In addition to that post, the transition has yet to announce appointments to the jobs of Secretaries of Defense and Homeland Security as well as the key White House post of Counterterrorism Adviser.

Saturday, the president-elect met with another retired Marine general: James Mattis, described in an earlier statement as the “real deal” and an “American hero.” Mattis, also 66, retired in 2013 after serving as commander of the Pentagon’s Central Command, based in Tampa.

Centcom has responsibility for U.S. military operations in the Middle East and South Asia. Southcom is responsible for operations in Latin America and the Caribbean.

The Kelly meeting Sunday capped a day of conversations between Trump, Vice President-elect Mike Pence and a wide array of people who included former Hollywood agent Ari Emanuel, who is the brother of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel; New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie; former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and BET founder Robert Johnson.

Carol Rosenberg: 305-376-3179, @carolrosenberg

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