David Petraeus says willing to serve if Donald Trump asks

Petraeus (above, in 2011) has been mentioned as a possible contender for secretary of state.
Petraeus (above, in 2011) has been mentioned as a possible contender for secretary of state.PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (AFP) - David Petraeus, the retired general who led the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) until his resignation under a cloud in 2012, said on Wednesday he would serve in President-elect Donald Trump's Cabinet if asked.

"The only response can be: 'yes, Mr President,'" he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

Petraeus, 64, has been mentioned as a possible contender for secretary of state.

A celebrated general, he led the US surge in Iraq from 2006 to 2008, and was later pulled from his post as head of US Central Command to lead the Nato force in Afghanistan in 2010.

He took over the CIA in mid-2011 after retiring from the military, but resigned in late 2012 after coming under investigation for giving his biographer and mistress, Paula Broadwell, access to classified information.

He eventually pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of mishandling classified information.

Petraeus' legal troubles were reminiscent of those faced by Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, who was dogged during the campaign by an FBI investigation into her use of a private server to send e-mail - an issue Trump and his supporters relentlessly exploited with chants of "lock her up!" The FBI declined to file charges in Clinton's case.

In the BBC interview, Petraeus was asked whether Trump had the temperament to be president.

"It's up to Americans at this point in time not only to hope that that is the case, but if they can, endeavour to help him," he said.

"If you're asked, you've got to serve - put aside any reservations based on campaign rhetoric... and figure out what's best for the country."