WASHINGTON (AFP) - The US Senate on Tuesday confirmed Senator John Kerry as the next secretary of state, approving President Barack Obama's pick to replace Hillary Clinton by a wide majority.
The Senate voted 94-3 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 Democratic lawmaker, who spent 28 years in the Senate.
Mr Kerry - a senator from Massachusetts best known outside the United States for his unsuccessful 2004 presidential campaign - was nominated last month by Mr Obama to take over from Mrs Clinton as the nation's top diplomat.
He is known to have long coveted the job, but almost lost out to US ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice, who had been seen as Mr Obama's first choice.
But she withdrew from consideration for the post under Republican fire over the administration's response to the Sept 11 attack on a US mission in Libya that left four Americans dead.
Earlier, Mr 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" leaving.
Mrs 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 grueling years.
At his confirmation hearing last week, Mr 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.
"We cannot allow the extraordinary good that we do to save and change lives to be eclipsed entirely by the role that we have had to play since September 11th, a role that was thrust upon us," he said.
The decorated Vietnam veteran turned anti-war activist has built impeccable credentials during his time in the Senate. He has sat down with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, soothed nerves in Pakistan and visited the Gaza Strip.