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January 7, 2013

President to nominate Hagel

(Continued)

WASHINGTON —

Hagel is likely to support a more rapid withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan.

Sen. Mitch McConnell, the top Senate Republican, said earlier Sunday that he was reserving judgment on whether to support Hagel. But he predicted the former Nebraska senator would face serious questions about his stands on Iran and Israel.

Any nominee must have “a full understanding of our close relationship with out Israeli allies, the Iranian threat and the importance of having a robust military,” McConnell said on ABC’s “This Week.”

Hagel has criticized discussion of a military strike by either the U.S. or Israel against Iran. He has also backed efforts to bring Iran to the table for talks on future peace in Afghanistan. Some lawmakers have been troubled by his comments and actions on Israel, including his reference to the “Jewish lobby” in the United States.

“This is a controversial pick,” Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., told CNN. “He is an antagonistic figure when it comes to the state of Israel. It’s a signal you’re sending to Iran at the worst possible time and to our allies.”

 

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