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Kerry faces US committee over nomination

While discussing nomination for secretary of state, senator says US foreign policy is more than just drones and troops.
Last Modified: 25 Jan 2013 05:37
Kerry has long sought the position of secretary of state and has substantial resume as elder statesman[Reuters]

US foreign policy is more than just drones and troops, Senator John Kerry pledged as he outlined to legislators his priorities if they back him as the next secretary of state.

"American foreign policy is not defined by drones and deployments alone," he told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Thursday, sitting across from the committee which he has been a member of for 29 years, and which he has also chaired.

"We cannot allow the good that we do to save and change lives to be eclipse entirely by the role we had to play since September 11. A role that was thrust upon us."

Kerry has been tapped by President Barack Obama to take over from Hillary Clinton, who is leaving office after a four-year term.

"American foreign policy is also defined by food security and energy security, humanitarian assistance, the fight against disease and the push for development, as much as it is by any single counter terrorism initiative," Kerry said during the hearing.

Clinton, along with veteran Senator John McCain, stepped up to introduce Kerry and recommend him as the next US top diplomat. It is a post he has long coveted, and he is expected to sail through his hearing.

Working together

Addressing a bitterly divided Congress, he called for American leadership, and "fresh thinking" saying he wanted to work together with Democrats and Republicans to confront together challenges facing them across the world.

Kerry has built an impressive resume as an elder statesman in the US Senate, but failed in 2004 in his bid to win the White House.

The decorated Vietnam veteran turned anti-war activist failed to unseat George W Bush after running a lacklustre campaign in which he was bombarded by dubious ads attacking his military service.

But, as a top senator specialising in foreign affairs, Kerry has sat down with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, soothed nerves in Pakistan and visited the Gaza Strip, winning the respect of fellow Democrats and Republicans alike.

In nominating him, Obama praised Kerry's record on foreign affairs.

"He is not going to need a lot of on-the-job training," Obama said last month, as Kerry stood next to him at the White House.

Kerry also vowed that the United States would work to stop Iran developing a nuclear weapon. He emphasised the continued need for diplomacy, but said there would be no policy of containment.

"The president has made it definitive - we will do what we must to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

"I repeat here today: our policy is not containment. It is prevention and the clock is ticking on our efforts to secure responsible compliance."

Home first

Echoing Obama's inauguration speech on Monday, Kerry highlighted climate change as a top foreign policy.

And he made a plea for America to restore its economic leadership, and for the administration and the lawmakers to overcome differences on budget and economic difficulties.

"I am especially cognisant of the fact that we can't be strong in the world unless we are strong at home - and the first priority of business which will affect my credibility as a diplomat working to help other countries create
order, is whether America at last puts its own fiscal house in order."

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