Pentagon chief to meet top U.S. business leaders amid Ukraine crisis

WASHINGTON Wed Mar 19, 2014 10:13am EDT

U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel addresses a news conference during a NATO defence ministers meeting at the Alliance headquarters in Brussels February 27, 2014. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel addresses a news conference during a NATO defence ministers meeting at the Alliance headquarters in Brussels February 27, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Francois Lenoir

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel will speak to chief executives of major U.S. companies on Wednesday to explain the Pentagon's 2015 budget proposal and to field possible questions about the economic impact of rising tensions with Russia.

Hagel will address members of the Business Roundtable on Wednesday afternoon, filling in for Vice President Joe Biden who was originally scheduled to speak to the group but is traveling, said Rear Admiral John Kirby, a top Pentagon spokesman.

Kirby said Hagel will discuss the Defense Department's $496 billion budget proposal for the 2015 fiscal year and the strategy underlying the plan. He will also make a pitch to the chief executives to hire more military veterans.

Asked whether Hagel would address the subject of rising tensions with Russia following its attempt to annex the Crimean region of Ukraine, Kirby said the defense secretary expected the issue to be raised.

"No doubt in the context of the discussion, current events will come up," he said.

The business group's chief executives are in Washington for a quarterly meeting which is closed to the public and the press, spokeswoman Tita Freeman said, without providing other details.

U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman is also scheduled to address the group on Wednesday, according to his office.

The Washington-based Business Roundtable is an association of chief executives of major U.S. corporations, founded in 1972. Its members include executives from companies with global footprints, from the defense industry and consumer manufacturers to the healthcare and technology sectors.

(Reporting by David Alexander; additional reporting by Susan Heavey and Krista Hughes; Editing by Bernadette Baum)

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Comments (7)
AlkalineState wrote:
Export Liquefied Natural Gas to Europe. There is opportunity in Russian mis-steps.

Mar 19, 2014 12:16pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
willich6 wrote:
Congress will Not allow obama’s unilateral dismantling of US forces in the face of both Russian and Chinese aggression.. Hagel’s 2015 military budget ‘request’ is dead on arrival – both sides of the aisle will see to that..

Mar 19, 2014 1:59pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
Mott wrote:
Defense chief meeting with businesses? When did this become his business?

Ukraine crisis? Seems not much money to be made there.

These peaceful mergers doesn’t seem to help businesses much. Traditional decade long wars make more money for businesses.

Mar 19, 2014 2:39pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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