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Exxon CEO emerges as top contender for US secretary of state post

Exxon Mobil Corp. CEO Rex Tillerson emerged as the leading candidate to become U.S. secretary of state, The Washington Post reported Dec. 9, citing "two people familiar with the deliberations."

Tillerson has moved ahead in deliberations over other candidates, including former Massachusetts governor and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, who reportedly withdrew his name from contention earlier the same day.

However, Tillerson's extensive business dealings and links to Russia could hinder his nomination, the paper noted.

Meanwhile, President-elect Donald Trump picked U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., to become interior secretary, Bloomberg News reported the same day, citing "two sources familiar with the matter."

Rodgers has been criticized by environmental and conservation organizations for her record of supporting policies aimed at opening more areas to oil and gas projects, Bloomberg noted.

Trump reportedly said Dec. 9 that he intends to name Dow Chemical Co. Chairman and CEO Andrew Liveris head of the Manufacturing Council.