The United States did not veto the appointment of Gen. Moises Garcia Ochoa as defense secretary, the Mexican government said.

A story published by the New York Times earlier this week claimed that the United States lobbied against the general's appointment to the Cabinet post.

"The Obama administration had many concerns about the general, including the Drug Enforcement Administration's suspicion that he had links to drug traffickers and the Pentagon's anxiety that he had misused military supplies and skimmed money from multimillion-dollar defense contracts," The New York Times said.

President Enrique Peña Nieto, who took office on Dec. 1, "reviewed the profiles of the Mexican army's active division generals in selecting the national defense secretary," the Government Secretariat said in a statement.

The president decided to appoint Gen. Salvador Cienfuegos as defense secretary, "exercising the full powers that the Constitution grants him to freely name and remove the Cabinet secretaries," the secretariat said.

"Decisions on the selection of Mexican officials belong only to the government" of Mexico, William Ostick, a U.S. State Department spokesman for Latin American affairs, told Efe. EFE