World Bulletin/News Desk
President Barack Obama appeared poised on Friday to pick former Republican Senator Chuck Hagel as the next U.S. defense secretary and the announcement may come early next week.
Sources on Capitol Hill and in the national security community said all signs were pointing to Hagel as Obama's choice to replace current Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.
The choice would likely set up a confirmation battle in the Senate over whether Hagel strongly supports key U.S. ally Israel. Gay rights groups have also complained about some of Hagel's past remarks, which were seen as disparaging to them.
However, if Obama were to back down from picking Hagel, it would be the second embarrassment for him, after his preferred candidate for secretary of state, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice, withdrew from consideration in the face of determined opposition.
The White House insisted Obama had not yet made a final decision on Hagel, but a source close to the situation said the White House had signaled to Hagel's camp that he remained Obama's leading candidate for the post.
The source said the process was on track for likely nomination announcement on Monday or Tuesday.
It was not known whether Obama had finalized his decision or if Hagel had been directly informed. The source said Hagel's closest advisers had received "messages of reassurance" in recent days in the face of a campaign by Hagel's critics aimed at derailing his nomination.
Hagel has already faced an onslaught over his record on Israel and Iran led by some pro-Israel groups and neo-conservatives.
A Republican operative involved in the opposition to Hagel's nomination predicted he would have trouble getting confirmed by the Senate. "It's going to be a vicious fight," the operative said.
'Tunisia's parliament made a significant breakthrough for human rights by approving proposed changes in detainee rights,' the rights watchdog says
The meeting will be the first of its kind since a schism in the 11th Century split what was then the only Christian Church into Western and Eastern branches
German and French interior minister stress out that refugee flow from Turkey must be reduced
German chancellor is due to meet Turkish premier to discuss ways to make progress on reducing illegal migration and replacing it with legal migration
Neither Russian president nor foreign minister are planning to contact with their Turkish colleagues
'The AU troops pulled out of the town and Shebab militants entered, and have secured control without fighting'
'Albania is faced with an ecological disaster and we are obliged to take drastic measures against forest exploitation for industry and export,' environment minister says
Recent months have seen sporadic militant attacks on UN peacekeepers and Malian army personnel
The UK has rejected the UN panel decision on Assange claiming that he was never arbitrarily detained.
A UN panel has ruled in favour of Julian Assange and said the UK and Sweden is "arbitrarily detaining" the WikiLeaks founder.
With the UN declaring that food security is decreasing at an alarming rate, the Zimbabwe government has declared a national emergency.looming.
State of emergency is endangering human rights in France, campaigners claim
'There are lawyers that are considering whether or not that term can be properly applied', White House says
The court says the order is being suspended due to his poor health
'The fighting has seen an escalation and regime forces bear the responsibility for that,' German foreign minister says
According to the UN panel, the detention of Julian Assange is illegal