Obama faces familiar world of problems in 2nd term

CREATED Nov 8, 2012

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WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Barack Obama now has a freer hand to deal with a world of familiar problems in fresh ways. That could mean tougher Iran and Syria policies, or new engagement toward countries such as Cuba and North Korea. He could also refocus on the moribund Middle East peace efforts.

Officials said the first tweaks in Obama's Iran policy could come within weeks.

But a pressing task is assigning a new national security team.  Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has announced her plans to retire and could stay a few weeks past January to help the administration as it reshuffles personnel.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is likely to depart soon after her.
 

CIA Director Gen. David Petraeus is expected to stay on.