The US Senate has confirmed Senator John Kerry as the country's next secretary of state, approving President Barack Obama's choice to replace Hillary Clinton by a wide majority.

"American foreign policy is not defined by drones and deployments alone"

- John Kerry

The Senate voted 94-3 on Tuesday in favour of Kerry, after the chamber's Foreign Relations Committee approved the nomination earlier in the day.

His nomination was pushed through the Senate in a matter of days, given the clear bipartisan support for the 69-year-old veteran legislator.

Kerry was nominated by Obama last month to take over from Clinton as the nation's top diplomat.

'Very wistful'

A Democrat from Massachusetts who served 28 years as a senator, Kerry is best known outside the US for an unsuccessful presidential campaign in 2004 against then President George W Bush.

Kerry called for 'fresh thinking' to tackle global woes, as he outlined his foreign policy agenda last week

Earlier, Kerry said he was "humbled" and gratified by the support from the members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which he himself chairs.

"They've been wonderful, they've been really superb," he said of his committee colleagues, adding, "I'm very wistful about it, it's not easy".

Hillary Clinton, 65, is expected to leave her post on Friday, amid swirling speculation about whether she will run for the presidency in 2016. For now, she has said only that she is looking forward to some rest after four gruelling years.

At his confirmation hearing last week, Kerry called for "fresh thinking" as he outlined his foreign policy agenda and plans for relations with Iran, China and the Middle East.

"American foreign policy is not defined by drones and deployments alone," he told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Source: Agencies