Obama to formally name Clinton secretary of state
AFP - Tuesday, December 2
CHICAGO (AFP) - - Facing a string of grave foreign policy crises, Barack Obama was set Monday to name his one-time rival Hillary Clinton as secretary of state in a national security team stacked with political muscle.
The president-elect was also expected to formally announce that Defense Secretary Robert Gates will stay on for at least a year and to select former NATO commander James Jones for the vital role of national security advisor.
His picks will become the latest collection of political power players to join a formidable cabinet already replete with experience on the world stage and in Washington's political jungle.
Sources said Obama and Clinton , a New York senator and former first lady, were set to appear together at a Chicago press conference at 9:40 am (1540 GMT), after several weeks of frenzied speculation sparked by his offer for her to become the top US diplomat.
The remarkable political alliance will write another unlikely chapter in the rollercoaster political drama of Bill and Hillary Clinton and symbolically consign this year's fiery Democratic primary feud to US history.
"I can confirm that she will be in Chicago tomorrow to be named secretary of state," a person close to Clinton told AFP on condition of anonymity on Sunday.
Obama and vice president-elect Joseph Biden will name the team just days after the Mumbai terror assaults handed them a fresh South Asia crisis to add to the plethora of US national security challenges.
After taking office in January, the Obama team must extricate US troops from Iraq, deal with the Iranian nuclear drive and address deteriorating conditions in the Afghan war.
At the same time, the US economy is in meltdown and successive financial crises are cascading around the world, threatening to further destabilize a fractious security environment.
Sources said Obama will complete the top layers of his national security team with Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano as Homeland Security chief.
Pending Senate confirmation, long-time Obama foreign policy aide Susan Rice is also set to be formally named as US ambassador to the United Nations and retired admiral Dennis Blair Director of National Intelligence.
Obama is also expected to officially unveil Eric Holder, his pick for attorney general, several weeks after his nomination leaked out in Washington.
Former president Bill Clinton cleared the way for his wife to become the face of US foreign policy abroad by reaching a complicated agreement on his financial arrangements and future role on the world stage.
There had been fears her nomination could falter over the appearance of conflicts of interest between her husband's charitable foundation and lucrative speechmaking schedule, and US foreign policy.
Clinton has agreed to release the list of donors to his foundation by the end of the year, transition officials said.
He has also agreed to submit future engagements, speeches and sources of income to the State Department and the White House and to take a more behind-the-scenes role in the daily running of his foundation, sources said.
Democratic Senator Jack Reed said the ex-president's "framework of transparency and disclosure" is a key step in defusing concerns about how he may influence his wife's work should she become the top US diplomat.
Senator Richard Lugar, the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, agreed the agreement would ease Hillary Clinton's nomination.
"I plan to vote in favor of her confirmation," Lugar told ABC, while also praising Obama's "excellent selections."
Last week, Obama drafted a string of intellectual heavyweights into his economic team, reassuring markets traumatized by the raging financial crisis.
Selecting Gates, who is respected across the political aisle in Washington for his performance since taking over from Donald Rumsfeld two years ago, would allow Obama to honor his pledge to name at least one Republican cabinet member.
Jones is also respected on Capitol Hill and has direct experience of the Afghan war.
He criticized the Bush administration's strategy in Afghanistan in a report issued earlier this year by the Atlantic Council of the United States, which he chaired.
"Make no mistake, NATO is not winning in Afghanistan," the report said.
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Facing a string of grave foreign policy crises, Barack Obama is set to name his one-time rival Hillary Clinton, seen here in New York last month, as secretary of state in a national security team stacked with political muscle.
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