WASHINGTON – The Senate will vote Wednesday on Hillary Clinton's nomination to be secretary of state, a post she intends to use to make a new push for Middle East peace and revamp US diplomacy worldwide, sources said Tuesday.
The Senate will hold a roll call vote on Clinton's appointment the day after new president Barack Obama is inaugurated, a Democratic leadership source said.
The Senate had been expected to vote on the nomination on Tuesday, but Republican objections apparently sparked the delay -- even if she is still expected to be confirmed as the new chief US diplomat.
Obama then plans to name former Northern Ireland peacemaker George Mitchell as his Middle East envoy, aides told the Washington Post, adding the move is to send a signal the new administration wants to deal quickly with a new Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
In the run-up to his inauguration, Obama had resisted pressure to speak out on a three-week Israeli offensive in the Gaza Strip launched on December 27, insisting there was "only one president at a time" to represent the United States abroad.
A fragile truce between Israel and the Hamas Islamist movement took hold at the weekend.
Mitchell, 75, is a retired US senator who steered the tough negotiations that led to lasting peace in Northern Ireland. He is the son of a Lebanese immigrant mother, and of an Irish father who when orphaned was adopted by a Lebanese family.
Clinton, who appeared smiling at inauguration ceremonies Tuesday with her husband and former president Bill Clinton, cleared a key hurdle last week when the Senate foreign relations committee approved the former first lady by a 16-1 vote.
The fulsome support given to Clinton came despite some Republican reservations over potential conflicts of interests between her new job and the charitable foundation of her husband.
Clinton vowed to clear up the "fog" of diplomacy after the controversial eight-year presidency of George W. Bush.
"We must use what has been called 'smart power,' the full range of tools at our disposal," she said, advocating a mix of diplomatic, economic, military, political legal and cultural strategies.
Clinton promised to take a new approach to Iran's nuclear and regional ambitions by engaging diplomatically with a country it has not had ties with for three decades. She also vowed to make "every effort" for Middle East peace, but ruled out talks with Hamas.
She previewed an "aggressive" bid to halt North Korea's alleged nuclear proliferation activities, and promised the United States would belatedly throw itself into the fight against global warming.
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