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Robert Gates to Remain Defense Secretary, Says Report

Tuesday, 25 Nov 2008 05:32 PM

WASHINGTON – U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates has agreed to stay on under President-elect Barack Obama and retired Marine Gen. James Jones will be named national security adviser, the Politico news website said on Tuesday.

Politico, quoting officials in both the Democratic and Republican parties, said the announcements would be made early next week when Obama unveils his national security team including New York Sen. Hillary Clinton as nominee for secretary of state.

The web site said Democrats familiar with the transition plans expected James Steinberg, a former deputy national security adviser in the Clinton administration, to be named deputy secretary of state.

Officials at Obama's transition office had no immediate comment on the report.

Susan Rice, another of Obama's inner circle of foreign policy advisers, was expected to be named U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and retired Navy Admiral Dennis Blair would be named director of national intelligence, Politico said.

Other news outlets including ABC and Fox also reported that Gates would stay on at the Pentagon, which had been widely suggested as a possibility.

A former CIA director, Gates was president of Texas A&M university when President George W. Bush asked him to take over the U.S. Department of Defense from the combative Donald Rumsfeld in late 2006.

Gates, now 65, set about putting things back on an even keel with a low-key approach that sought to build constructive relationships but also betrayed a steely firmness of purpose in the two U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Jones, a former Marine commandant and leader of U.S. and NATO forces in Europe, had also been seen as among the front-runners for the national security adviser role.

Jones is known to have been a strong critic of the Bush administration's handling of the Iraq war.

In Washington Post journalist Bob Woodward's 2006 book "State of Denial," Jones is quoted as describing the Iraq war as a "debacle."

Obama this week unveiled a string of senior appointments in his economic team, including New York Federal Reserve President Timothy Geithner as Treasury secretary and Lawrence Summers, a Treasury secretary under former President Bill Clinton, as head of the National Economic Council.

© 2008 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved.

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