United States Senate panel approves Kerry for secretary of state

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - U.S. Senator John Kerry on Tuesday won the unanimous support of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday to replace Hillary Clinton as President Barack Obama's new secretary of state.

The full Senate was expected to confirm Mr Kerry later on Tuesday.

The five-term senator and 2004 failed presidential candidate has broad support from fellow Democrats as well as Republicans in the Senate.

In a signal of the strong support for Mr Kerry, the committee members signed a resolution praising Mr Kerry's work in the Senate before they voted to support his confirmation.

"It is a lengthy recitation of an incredible career here in the Senate, some tremendous accomplishments on behalf of the nation and a recognition of how you are going to be an incredible secretary of state," said Senator Robert Menendez, of New Jersey, who will replace Mr Kerry as committee chairman.

Florida Senator Marco Rubio, a Republican, did not attend the session.

Mr Kerry came into the room shortly after the vote, to loud applause from the committee members. Moved by their support, he said, "I'm honoured beyond words," before making brief remarks about the importance of the committee going forward on issues like Middle East peace.

"What a privilege to work with you and now to work with you in a different way. I thank you, very, very much," Mr Kerry said.

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