EU's Ashton welcomes Kerry at State

Jan. 30, 2013 at 11:41 AM
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BRUSSELS, Jan. 30 (UPI) -- EU top foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said Wednesday she was "delighted" that U.S. Sen. John Kerry will take over at the U.S. State Department.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is stepping down Friday from her post as President Barack Obama ushers in a new Cabinet for his second term.

U.S. senators Tuesday overwhelmingly backed Kerry, long-time Democratic senator for Massachusetts, to become secretary of state.

"I am delighted that Sen. John Kerry has been confirmed to succeed Hillary Clinton as U.S. secretary of state," Ashton said in a statement Wednesday. "(His) huge experience and impressive track record, most recently as chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, gives him the ideal profile for this key post."

Kerry, in opening remarks during his confirmation hearing Tuesday, said economic policy is part of U.S. foreign policy. The European Union has struggled under debt burdens in the wake of the global fiscal crisis.

U.S. Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, cast one of the few votes against Kerry. He said that despite Kerry's long record, he's "been, unfortunately, consistently on the wrong side of history" on issues ranging from Latin America to Middle East policies.

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