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  Former U.S. secretary of state Powell backs Hagel's Pentagon nomination  

  

 

Former U.S. secretary of state Collin Powell on Sunday voiced strong support for former senator Chuck Hagel, President Barack Obama's pick for next Secretary of Defense, and expected him to win the Senate's confirmation despite some ongoing controversy.

  WASHINGTON, Jan. 13 (Xinhua) -- Former U.S. secretary of state Collin Powell on Sunday voiced strong support for former senator Chuck Hagel, President Barack Obama's pick for next Secretary of Defense, and expected him to win the Senate's confirmation despite some ongoing controversy.

  "I think he will do a great job as Secretary of Defense," Powell said on NBC's "Meet the Press," expressing his belief that Hagel will finally get confirmed by Congress.

  "I think he ultimately is superbly qualified based on his overall record, based on his service to the country, based on how he feels about troops and veterans and families," said the retired four-star general, who served in the George W. Bush administration.

  Last Monday, Obama announced his nomination for Hagel as the next Defense Secretary, and his counterterrorism adviser John Brennan to lead the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), two core jobs in his national security team during his second term that will soon begin. However, both nominations are expected to face challenge at the Capitol Hill.

  Hagel, 66, a decorated Vietnam War veteran and a moderate Republican, is expected to be a trusted ally of Obama on many issues including the U.S. military exit from Afghanistan. He served for two terms from 1997 to 2009 as U.S. senator for Nebraska, and was a leading Republican critic of the Iraq War. He is now chairperson of the President's Intelligence Advisory Board, and also a professor at Georgetown University.

  Hagel's nomination has been rumored for weeks and sparked criticism. Republican lawmakers have already stood in line to voice their opposition to Obama's selection of Hagel, raising questions over whether the former senator would be a strong ally of Israel and be tough enough on Iran.

  "I think in his (Senate) confirmation hearings, all of these issues that you have raised, that others have raised, he will be prepared to deal with," said Powell, adding that Hagel is expected to make a "very spirited defense in his position."

  Powell also defended Hagel on his positions over Israel and Iran, saying the former Nebraska senator is "a very, very strong supporter of the state of Israel."

  Hagel has said that "nothing is ever off the table" on Iran, but he also believes in the prospects for negotiation, Powell added.

 

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