US & Canada

White House to nominate Gen John Allen as Nato commander

US General John Allen on 10 October 2012 Image copyright AFP
Image caption Gen John Allen's nomination to the top Nato position in Europe had been placed on hold

The White House says it will go ahead with the nomination of Gen John Allen as Nato commander in Europe.

The announcement comes after he was cleared of allegations he had "inappropriate" communication with Florida socialite Jill Kelley.

He is to relinquish command of the Nato mission in Afghanistan next month.

Unrelated harassment complaints by Mrs Kelley led to the revelation of an affair between CIA chief David Petraeus and his biographer.

Gen Allen's nomination to lead the Nato command in Europe was placed on hold after it was revealed last year he had communicated repeatedly with Mrs Kelley, whom he met when he led US Central Command at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida.

The emails between the two first came to light as part of a wider investigation into email harassment against Mrs Kelley, who knew both Gen Allen and Mr Petraeus, a former general, through social contacts at the base.

'Obviously pleased'

When the FBI investigated, it traced the emails to Mr Petraeus's biographer Paula Broadwell, bringing to light her affair with the CIA chief.

Earlier reports suggested Gen Allen had exchanged thousands of emails, some described as inappropriate and flirtatious, with Mrs Kelley.

The Afghanistan commander had also written a letter to a judge in support of Mrs Kelley's twin sister in a messy child custody dispute.

A spokesman for Gen Allen said the general was "obviously pleased" to be cleared of the charges he had violated the prohibition against conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman.

"From the outset, the general placed his faith in - and fully supported - the investigative process," Maj David Nevers said.

Pentagon spokesman George Little said the defence department "was pleased to learn that allegations of professional misconduct were not substantiated", adding that Defence Secretary Leon Panetta had "complete confidence in the continued leadership" of Gen Allen.

Defence officials told the Washington Post that the full investigation had shown that there were in fact only several hundred emails exchanged between Gen Allen and Mrs Kelley, mostly notes on current news topics and social matters or compliments on Gen Allen's television interviews.

"Some of the messages are not the sort of things you would print in a family newspaper," the official said. "But that doesn't mean he violated military regulations by sending and receiving them."

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