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Obama looking to fill key roles

President Barack Obama (left) and Chuck Hagel

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama is expected to announce his nominees for secretaries of state and defence 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 yesterday.

Hagel, whose appointment would give 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 that Obama had decided on any of the key nominations he will put forth.

Obama is still deliberating whether to unveil his top national security appointments, likely to include a new CIA director, in a single high-profile package this month or to name them one-by-one, according to an administration official who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Other top contenders to replace Defence Secretary Leon Panetta are believed to include former senior Pentagon official Michele Flournoy, Deputy Defence 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 US ambassador to the United Nations. (Reuters)

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