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Trump names Patrick Shanahan as acting defence secretary

 WASHINGTON, Dec 24: US President Donald Trump has announced that Deputy Defence Secretary Patrick Shanahan has been appointed acting Pentagon chief.

"Patrick has a long list of accomplishments," Trump tweeted on Sunday, the BBC reported. "He (Shanahan) will be great!" the President added.

Shanahan will take over on 1 January, an earlier date than expected.

The move follows the resignation of James Mattis, who hinted at policy differences with Trump when he stepped down on Friday.

Mattis, 68, said the President had the right to appoint someone "whose views are better aligned with yours".

Mattis had been expected to leave the job in February, but on Sunday it was reported that the President had been considering removing him early.

Shortly after announcing Shanahan's appointment, Trump shared details of a "productive call" he had had with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey.

Trump said the pair had discussed "our mutual involvement in Syria, and the slow and highly coordinated" withdrawal of US troops from the country.

Mattis resigned shortly after President Trump announced the decision to withdraw all troops from Syria.

While not mentioning it in his resignation letter directly, he is understood to oppose the decision and has previously warned that an early withdrawal would be a "strategic blunder". - IANS

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