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Summit of EU leaders set to pick the bloc's new foreign policy chief, other top jobs

  • Italy Europe Ukraine-1.jpg

    Italy's Foreign Minister Federica Mogherini, right, smiles as Denmark's Foreign Minister Martin Lidegaard, left, and Croatia's Foreign Minister Vesna Pusic watch, during an informal meeting of the EU Foreign Affairs Ministers, in Milan, Italy, Friday, Aug. 29, 2014. European Union foreign ministers on Friday were set to weigh adopting a tougher stance on the Ukraine crisis amid increasing calls to beef up economic sanctions against Russia. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno) (The Associated Press)

  • Italy Europe Ukraine-2.jpg

    Italy's Foreign Minister Federica Mogherini smiles during an informal meeting of the EU Foreign Affairs Ministers, in Milan, Italy, Friday, Aug. 29, 2014. European Union foreign ministers on Friday were set to weigh adopting a tougher stance on the Ukraine crisis amid increasing calls to beef up economic sanctions against Russia. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno) (The Associated Press)

  • 77846492f3ab32215e0f6a7067000494.jpg

    Italy's Foreign Minister Federica Mogherini, center, is flanked by Croatia's Foreign Minister Vesna Pusic, left, and German Federal Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier during an informal meeting of the EU Foreign Affairs Ministers, in Milan, Italy, Friday, Aug. 29, 2014. European Union foreign ministers on Friday were set to weigh adopting a tougher stance on the Ukraine crisis amid increasing calls to beef up economic sanctions against Russia. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno) (The Associated Press)

  • Italy Europe Ukraine-4.jpg

    Italy Foreign Minister Federica Mogherini smiles as she meets the media during an informal meeting of the EU Foreign Affairs Ministers, in Milan, Italy, Friday, Aug. 29, 2014. European Union foreign ministers on Friday were set to weigh adopting a tougher stance on the Ukraine crisis amid increasing calls to beef up economic sanctions against Russia. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno) (The Associated Press)

European Union leaders are set to decide who will get the prestigious job as the 28-nation bloc's foreign policy chief for the next five years.

The heads of state and government are widely expected to nominate Italy's Foreign Minister Federica Mogherini at Saturday's summit in Brussels as part of a package deal that includes other top appointments.

The decision on incumbent Catherine Ashton's successor comes as the crisis at the EU's eastern border pitting Ukraine against Russia poses one of the biggest foreign policy challenges for the bloc in decades.

Ashton, whose term ends in October, has been a frequent interlocutor for U.S. secretaries of state and chairs the negotiations on Iran's nuclear program.

The 41-year-old Mogherini, Italy's foreign minister only since February, has been criticized for lacking experience.