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Kerry to Head Senate Foreign Relations Committee

Tuesday, 16 Dec 2008 08:09 AM

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WASHINGTON -- Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts is expected to take over next month as chairman of the influential U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the Senate Democratic leader said on Monday.

Kerry, 65, the 2004 Democratic presidential nominee, would replace fellow Democratic Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware, who will become President-elect Barack Obama's vice president on January 20, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said in a statement.

"I am honored to serve as chairman of a committee which I know from my own experience as a young man can impact the course of our security and help advance our values and interests in the world," Kerry said in a statement issued from Islamabad, Pakistan, as part of his first trip abroad as the incoming chairman.

Also included on the trip are Poland, Georgia, India, Afghanistan and Kuwait.

Kerry had been on the short list of potential nominees to be Obama's secretary of state. With Obama deciding instead to go with Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York as his top diplomat, Reid, as anticipated, recommended to a Democratic steering committee that Kerry head the Foreign Relations panel. Kerry is virtually certain to get the job in the Democratic-led Senate.

Kerry first appeared before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee 37 years ago when he was a recent Vietnam War veteran.

Dressed in old battle fatigues, he testified as a young hero and critic of an unpopular conflict that divided the United States and radicalized a generation of Americans.

Speaking on behalf of Vietnam Veterans Against the War, he said, "We are angry because we feel we have been used in the worst fashion by the administration" of President Richard Nixon.

Kerry is one of a number of Senate Committee chairs recommended by Reid.

© Thomson Reuters 2008 All rights reserved

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