Washington, Jan. 5 (Reuters): President Barack Obama will nominate former Republican Senator Chuck Hagel as his defence secretary and an announcement could come on Monday, a Democratic congressional aide said.
The choice will likely set up a confirmation battle in the Senate over whether the former Nebraska senator and Vietnam veteran is a strong enough supporter of key US ally Israel and over his past calls for military cuts.
Caracas (Reuters): Venezuelan lawmakers re-elected a staunch ally of Hugo Chavez to head the National Assembly on Saturday, putting him in line to be caretaker President if the socialist leader does not recover from cancer surgery. By choosing the incumbent, Diosdado Cabello, the “Chavista”-dominated legislature cemented the combative ex-soldier’s position as the third most powerful figure in the government, after Chavez and Vice-President Nicolas Maduro.
Cairo (Reuters): Egypt reshuffled its government on Sunday to strengthen Islamist control and pledged to complete talks with the International Monetary Fund on a $4.8-billion loan deal to stave off a currency crisis that risks igniting more unrest. A senior IMF official is due in Cairo on Monday to meet Egyptian leaders over the deal.
Pakistan (Reuters): A US drone strike killed at least 10 people suspected to be Taliban fighters in Pakistan’s northern tribal areas on Sunday, intelligence sources said, days after another drone strike killed a top militant leader in the area. Between 10 and 12 persons were killed in the attack on three compounds in Babar Pehari, South Waziristan, sources said.