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Panetta Approved As New U.S. Defense Chief


Panetta has said he supports the withdrawal of a significant number of troops from Afghanistan starting in July.

Panetta has said he supports the withdrawal of a significant number of troops from Afghanistan starting in July.

The United States Senate has unanimously approved the nomination of Leon Panetta to be America's next defense secretary.

Panetta, the outgoing head of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), will replace Robert Gates, who is retiring June 30 after more than four years as U.S. defense chief during the administrations of Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama.


Panetta is due to be replaced as CIA head by General David Petraeus, the current commander of U.S. and international forces in Afghanistan.


The 100-0 Senate vote came one day ahead of President Obama's scheduled June 22 address on his plans to start withdrawing U.S. forces from Afghanistan.


Panetta has said he supports the withdrawal of a significant number of troops from Afghanistan starting in July.


Panetta, who is turning 73 later this month, has served in political jobs for decades in Washington, including as a congressman from California and as President Bill Clinton's chief of staff.

compiled from agency reports

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