Donald Trump hunts for America's top diplomats                 

Donald Trump hunts for America's top diplomats                 

NEW YORK: (APP) Donald Trump stepped up his search Tuesday for a secretary of state with loyalists at loggerheads over prospective candidates: erstwhile critic Mitt Romney, scandal-clad general David Petraeus and Senator Bob Corker.

Trump's quest for America's next top diplomat, the most prestigious position in the cabinet and the statesman who will have to grapple with foreign crises and wars, has been mired in internal divisions.

Each candidate offers different merits and drawbacks, making it a hefty decision for a 70-year-old maverick New York real estate tycoon, who has never previously held office.

On Tuesday the president-elect has scheduled meetings with Romney, the failed 2012 Republican White House nominee whose consideration has had Trump's inner circle up in arms, and Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Analysts say that picking Romney would reassure the Republican establishment and US allies worried about Trump's foreign policy.

Trump's meeting will be his second with the former Massachusetts governor,who castigated Trump during the election campaign as a "fraud" and a "conman," and refused to endorse him.

Top aide Kellyanne Conway -- unusually for a senior political advisor publicly aired her concerns about Romney, saying she had received "a deluge" of concern from supporters and stressing his past animosity towards Trump.

Outspoken former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, who campaigned tirelessly for Trump, has been another early contender, but scrutiny over business dealings has since raised questions that could potentially disqualify him.

Petraeus, the most celebrated general of his generation, a former CIA director and former commander in Iraq and Afghanistan, has emerged latterly as a potential candidate despite a stunning fall from grace four years ago.