President Barack Obama on Friday nominated Senator John Kerry as his next Secretary of State, elevating the long-time legislator and foreign policy expert to the top diplomatic job he had coveted.

“He is not going to need a lot of on-the-job training,” Mr. Obama said, standing alongside Mr. Kerry at the White House. “Few individuals know as many Presidents and Prime Ministers or grasp our policies as firmly as John Kerry.”

If confirmed by the Senate, Mr. Kerry would replace Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who plans to leave Mr. Obama’s second-term Cabinet early next year. Ms. Clinton, who is recovering from a concussion sustained in a fall, did not attend the Roosevelt Room announcement.

The 69-year-old Democrat is expected to be easily confirmed by his Senate colleagues. He would be the first of what are expected to be several new faces on Mr. Obama’s national security team, including a new Defence Secretary and Director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

The son of a diplomat, Mr. Kerry has served as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and is a decorated Vietnam veteran who was critical of the war effort when he returned home to the United States. He has represented Massachusetts in the Senate since 1985.

“John’s entire life has prepared him for this role” said Mr. Obama, who praised Mr. Kerry for his belief that the country must harness “all elements of Americans power.”

The President picked Mr. Kerry for the post even though his nomination could create a political problem in Massachusetts. Republicans are eying the Senate seat Mr. Kerry will vacate after five terms, and recently defeated GOP Senator Scott Brown would be a favourite in his party for the job.

Mr. Kerry’s nomination could bring to a close what has become for the White House a contentious and distracting effort to find a new Secretary of State.

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