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United States

US General John Allen to retire, declines top NATO job

US General John Allen has decided to retire and will not proceed with his nomination as the NATO supreme allied commander. The move comes after he was cleared of wrongdoing in a misconduct scandal last month.

"Today, I met with General John Allen and accepted his request to retire from the military so that he can address health issues within his family," President Barack Obama said in a statement Tuesday.

Allen had recently left a 19-month command in Afghanistan and was nominated last fall to lead US and NATO forces in Europe.

Obama accepted Allen's resignation after meeting with him earlier in the day. The president praised Allen for presiding over "significant growth" in Afghanistan's security forces and a "further degradation" of al Qaeda.

"Above all, he cares deeply for the men and women in uniform who serve our nation – as well as their families – and I am grateful for the sacrifices made by his family in supporting him during his service," Obama said.

In Brussels, a NATO spokesperson said the organization fully respected the Allen's decision.

"As the longest serving commander of ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) he has shown great leadership," the spokesperson said.

In a statement, the four-star general shared his decision to retire after 38 years in uniform.

"The reasons for my decision are personal. I did not come to it lightly or quickly, but given the considerations behind it, I recognized in the end it was the only choice I could make," he said.

"While I won't go into the details, my primary concern is for the health of my wife, who has sacrificed so much for so long."

Resignation speculation

Allen's resignation was speculated for weeks, after he was embroiled in a scandal involving former CIA director David Petraeus. The Pentagon was investigating the marine general for possible misconduct in emails to a Florida socialite, but was cleared of any wrongdoing last month.

The Pentagon inquiry focused on emails between Allen and Jill Kelly, a Tampa, Florida resident who knew Allen when he served as the deputy at the US military's Central Command from July 2008 to June 2011.

The Kelly-Allen emails came to light after the FBI investigated allegations she had received harassing emails from someone else about Petraeus. The ensuing inquiry led the FBI to uncover extramarital affairs between Petraeus and his biographer, Paula Broadwell, and forced Petraeus to resign.

dr/slk (AFP, Reuters, AP, dpa)