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'Too much meanness' in US political life: Panetta

Published on Feb 14, 2013 8:40 AM

WASHINGTON (AFP) - Looking back at a long political career, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on Wednesday lamented an increasingly bitter atmosphere in Washington, saying there was "too much meanness" on display.

His comments come amid a mounting budget crisis in a deeply divided Congress and after Republican lawmakers renewed threats to block the appointment of the man nominated to succeed Panetta at the Pentagon, former senator Chuck Hagel.

Mr Panetta, who served for decades in Washington as an influential lawmaker before holding powerful posts under two Democratic presidents, said his only "disappointment" in his job as Pentagon chief was how Congress sometimes failed to play a constructive role.

"I always felt that - you know, that the leadership in the Congress and the leadership of whatever administration was involved here, that when it came to the big issues facing this country, that there was a willingness to work together to resolve those issues," he told a news conference.

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