President Barack Obama nominated Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) for secretary of state after Hillary Clinton steps down from office.
Obama made the announcement at a White House press conference.
Kerry, a longtime Democratic senator who challenged former President George W. Bush for a presidential bid, will likely be approved by the Senate, it has been speculated. He currently heads the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.
“I am very proud to announce my choice for America’s next secretary of state, John Kerry,” Obama said, according to a transcript of the conference. “In a sense, John’s entire life has prepared him for this role.”
Kerry, 69, was tipped to head the State Department after U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice withdrew from consideration when she was criticized by Republican lawmakers over her initial statements on the deadly attack on an American consulate in Libya.
“Over these many years, John’s earned the respect and confidence of leaders around the world. He is not going to need a lot of on-the-job training,” Obama continued. “He has earned the respect and trust of his Senate colleagues, Democrats and Republicans.
“I think it’s fair to say that few individuals know as many presidents and prime ministers or grasp our foreign policies as firmly as John Kerry,” he said, adding, “And this makes him a perfect choice to guide American diplomacy in the years ahead.”
Clinton, who has repeatedly said that she will not sign on for another term, is currently recovering at home after suffering a concussion last week. She fainted while battling illness.
Obama added that Kerry has “played a central role in every major foreign policy debate for nearly 30 years,” during his tenure in the Senate.
However, his nomination means that Democrats in Massachusetts will now have to scramble for a suitable nominee to fill his Senate seat. There has been speculation that the defeated Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) will try to run for his seat.
Kerry has traveled numerous times to the Middle East and even met with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in 2009. He has also fostered ties with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Martin S. Indyk, vice president and director of foreign policy at the Brookings Institution think tank, wrote on Friday that Kerry will face a number of big issues including instability in the Middle East, Afghanistan, Iran’s nuclear ambitions, and shaping the United State’s role in Asia.
“Kerry will likely be focused on taking advantage of Secretary Clinton’s success to negotiate new agreements that will help shape the emerging new global order,” Indyk said, describing Obama’s choice to nominate him as “a major step forward in shaping his new national security team.”
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