Washington: US President Barack Obama is expected to nominate former Republican Senator Chuck Hagel, who termed Indo-US civilian nuclear deal as one of the most thoughtful new approaches to American foreign policy, as his next Defence Secretary, media reports said.
While there was no official word from the White House, mainstream media reported that the announcement in this regard could come later today. Obama could also announce his nominee for the next CIA Director, media reports said.
If confirmed by the United States Senate, Hagel would replace Leon Panetta as America's next Defence Secretary; in which capacity he would not only have to face the challenge of budgetary cuts, but also end the war in Afghanistan, and play an important role in Asia-Pacific defense posture of the US.
Currently Chairperson of the President's Intelligence Advisory Board Incumbent, 66-year-old Hagel is familiar with the ground realties of South Asia.
As Nebraska Senator for two terms from 1997 to 2009, Hagel was member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, frequently travelled to South Asia and voted in favor of the historic India-US civilian nuclear deal.
"I think strategically it represents one of the most thoughtful new approaches to foreign policy in maybe 25 years," Hagel had told reporters in New Delhi during his trip to India in April 2006.
Hagel believes that the US ties with either India or Pakistan is not at the expense of the other.
Two years later he again travelled to India in February 2008 along with two of his other Senator colleagues - Joe Biden and John Kerry.
Biden is now the US Vice President, while Kerry is all set to join the Obama Cabinet as the Secretary of State.