Hagel to face grilling by US Senate panel on Mideast

WASHINGTON - Chuck Hagel will face tough questions on Pentagon spending cuts and US relations with Israel and Iran on Thursday as he faces a deeply skeptical Senate panel considering his nomination to be US President Barack Obama's next secretary of defense.
Another member of Obama's second-term national security team, Senator John Kerry, sailed through his confirmation before being receiving the Senate's overwhelming support on Tuesday.
But Hagel, a former Republican senator and decorated Vietnam War veteran who broke with his party over the Iraq War, can expect a much more confrontational hearing when he is grilled on a range of issues by members of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
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