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Trump meets Petraeus as race for Secretary of State heats up

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Washington: Stepping up his search for a new US secretary of state, President-elect Donald Trump has met highly-decorated but scandal-scarred former CIA chief David Petraeus amid open infighting among Trump’s advisers over who to pick for the coveted post.

Petraeus, one of America’s most celebrated generals credited with turning the tide in Iraq, spent an hour with Trump at his office in Trump Tower in Manhattan yesterday. Trump tweeted about the meeting immediately afterwards, saying he “was very impressed” with the retired general.

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“Just met with General Petraeus–was very impressed!” Trump said in a tweet after his meeting with the former decorated general of the US armed forces and the top spy master.

In his brief interaction with reporters after the meeting, Petraeus said it was a “very good conversation,” and added that, “We’ll see where it goes from here.” He said Trump showed a great grasp of a variety of global challenges.

“I was with him for about an hour. He basically walked us around the world,” he said. “(Trump) showed a great grasp of a variety of the challenges that are out there and some of the opportunities as well. Very good conversation and we’ll see where it goes from here.

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We’ll see where it goes from here,” Petraeus said amidst reports that the former CIA director is among the new names for his Secretary of State. The presidential transition team has not said anything except that the search for a new US secretary of state continues.

Trump is scheduled to have another round of meeting with his former bitter opponent and 2012 presidential candidate Mitt Romney. “The search process or the interview process as the president-elect works to come to a final decision on the secretary of state of front, he’ll complete that and announce his decision when he’s ready,” the transition communication director Jason Miller told reporters during a conference call.

“He has met with a number of very well-qualified individuals and obviously through this week met with a number of well-qualified individuals and he’s going to pick the person who he thinks will do the absolute best job,” Miller said.

On Sunday a top advisor to the President-elect had voiced her concern over tapping Romney for this position given that he had criticized Trump during the primaries and had called him phony.

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According to reports, Petraeus’s appointment could allow for a compromise amid reports of divisions within the Trump team, with some backing Romney and others supporting Rudy Giuliani.

Petraeus resigned as CIA direct in November 2012, was convicted of a misdemeanor in 2015, and is currently on probation for sharing classified information with his biographer and mistress, former Army intelligence officer Paula Broadwell.

Petraeus agreed to a plea deal that saw him sentenced to two years’ probation and forced him to pay a USD 100,000 fine for sharing classified information.

Before becoming the CIA Director, Petraeus was commander of the US Central Command and also headed the US and NATO troops in Afghanistan and Iraq.

CNN’s top counter terrorism expert Peter Bergan in an op-ed argued that Petraeus would be a smart choice for Trump’s Secretary of State.

“Indeed, Petraeus would be an outstanding first diplomat of the United States, although Trump is reportedly also considering candidates such as former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, among others,” Bergan wrote.