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Obama taps John Kerry as secretary of state

22 December, 2012

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WASHINGTON: President Barack Obama on Friday announced the nomination of US Senator John Kerry to replace Hillary Clinton as secretary of state, calling him the "perfect choice" to guide American diplomacy in the years ahead.

Obama settled on Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the 2004 Democratic presidential candidate, after UN Ambassador Susan Rice withdrew from consideration last week. He said he expected quick Senate confirmation of the Massachusetts lawmaker.

"As we turn the page on a decade of war, he understands that we have to harness all elements of American power," Obama said at the White House.

Kerry, who heads the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is well known abroad, and has acted as a sort of unofficial envoy for Obama in recent years.

In May 2011 Kerry went to Pakistan to try to ease tensions in the wake of the killing of Osama bin Laden, and in February 2009 made a rare visit to the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip. As soon as he is confirmed in his new job, he will face a huge array of foreign policy challenges, including a critical moment in the Iranian nuclear challenge and what could be the last throes of the Assad regime in Syria.

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