The Straits Times
Published on Dec 05, 2012

Obama to fill key posts in weeks, Hagel on Pentagon short-list


WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - President Barack Obama is expected to announce his nominees for secretaries of state and defense in the next two weeks, with former Republican Senator Chuck Hagel on the short list of potential choices to head the Pentagon, senior administration officials said on Tuesday.

Mr Hagel, whose appointment would give Mr Obama's reshuffled second-term cabinet a bipartisan cast, met the Democratic president at the White House this week to discuss a post on his national security team. But there was no sign Mr Obama had decided on the key nominations he will put forth.

Mr Obama also is still deliberating whether to unveil his top national security appointments, which is likely to include a new Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) director, in a single package this month or to name them one-by-one, one of the administration officials said.

Other top contenders to replace Defence Secretary Leon Panetta, are believed to include former senior Pentagon official Michele Flournoy, Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter and Democratic Senator John Kerry, Complicating matters, Obama is also deciding whether to nominate Kerry as secretary of state to replace Hillary Clinton or to go with Susan Rice, embattled United States (US) ambassador to the United Nations.