Obama picks Clinton for secretary of state

President-elect Barack Obama on Monday nominated former rival Hillary Clinton to be the next United States secretary of state, as he unveiled a raft of Cabinet picks.

“Hillary Clinton possesses an extraordinary intelligence and a remarkable work ethic. I’m proud she will be our next secretary of state,” Obama told a Chicago press conference as the New York senator looked on.

“She’s an American of tremendous stature who will have my complete confidence, who knows many of the world’s leaders, who will command respect in every capital, and who will clearly have the ability to advance our interests around the world.”

Obama said Defence Secretary Robert Gates had agreed to stay on his post, after taking over at the Pentagon two years ago.

Former Nato chief General James Jones is to take over as Obama’s national security adviser, and Arizona governor Janet Napolitano will be Homeland Security chief.

Obama also said he would give Gates a “new mission” to end the Iraq war and hand over control of the country to the Iraqis.

“I will be giving Secretary Gates and our military a new mission as soon as I take office, responsibly ending the war in Iraq through a successful transition to Iraqi control,” said Obama, who is to be inaugurated January 20.

Obama also pledged to turn attention to the fight against al-Qaeda and insurgents in Afghanistan.

“We will also ensure that we have the strategy and resources to succeed against al-Qaeda and the Taliban,” Obama said.

“As Bob [Gates] said not too long ago, Afghanistan is where the war on terror began, and it is where it must end. And going forward, we will continue to make the investments necessary to strengthen our military and increase our ground forces to defeat the threats of the 21st century.”—AFP

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