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Obama set to nominate Hagel as defence secretary

Published on Jan 7, 2013 10:12 AM

WASHINGTON (AFP) - US President Barack Obama is poised to nominate Mr Chuck Hagel as his new defence secretary on Monday, but Republicans are signaling a fierce confirmation fight even though he is one of their own.

Mr Obama has decided he wants the 66-year-old former Republican senator to succeed Mr Leon Panetta at the Pentagon and will make his announcement on Monday, an administration source said, confirming US media reports.

Mr Obama is also expected to announce who he has chosen to replace General David Petraeus at the helm of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), with acting-director Michael Morell and counter-terrorism adviser John Brennan seen as the frontrunners, CNN said.

Despite the fact that Mr Hagel is a fellow Republican, party heavyweights scenting blood in bitterly-divided Washington have accused him of hostility towards Israel and naivety on Iran, auguring a tough nomination process ahead.

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