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WASHINGTON - US President Barack Obama is expected to name former senator Chuck Hagel to serve as his next Defense Secretary, and the announcement could come early next week, US reports said Friday.
Media outlets such as CNN, Foreign Policy magazine, all quoted government sources as saying the announcement could come on Monday or Tuesday. White House officials would not confirm the reports.
Hagel's name has been floated as a potential Defense nominee last month, but was met with resistance from pro-Israel groups. Several Republican senators have also voiced their opposition. Hagel has made comments that the "Jewish lobby" intimidated people in Washington, and has expressed willingness to engage diplomatically with Hamas and Iran.
Hagel was also faced with criticism from gay rights groups over comments he made in 1998 about a gay ambassadorial nominee. Hagel apologized for those comments.
Obama defended Hagel in an interview last week, saying there was nothing that disqualified Hagel from being selected.
Hagel, 66, is a moderate Republican. He served for two terms from 1997 to 2009 as senator for Nebraska, and is now chairperson for President's Intelligence Advisory Board. Other contenders for the Pentagon post were said to be Michele Flournoy, former defense undersecretary for policy, and Ashton Carter, deputy defense secretary, reports have indicated.