US Senator John Kerry (D-MA) testifies during his Senate Foreign Relations Committee confirmation hearing to be secretary of state, on Capitol Hill in Washington. -Reuters Photo

WASHINGTON: American foreign policy is more than just drones and troops, Senator John Kerry pledged on Thursday, as he outlined to US lawmakers his priorities if they back him as the next secretary of state.

“American foreign policy is not defined by drones and deployments alone,” he told the Senate Foreign Relations committee, sitting across from the committee which he has been a member of for 29 years, and which he has also chaired.

“American foreign policy is also defined by food security and energy security, humanitarian assistance, the fight against disease and the push for development, as much as it is by any single counter terrorism initiative.”

Kerry has been tapped by President Barack Obama to take over from Hillary Clinton, who is leaving office after a four-year term.

Clinton, along with veteran Senator John McCain, stepped up to introduce Kerry and recommend him as the next US top diplomat. It is a post he has long coveted, and he is expected to sail through his hearing.

Addressing a bitterly divided Congress, he called for American leadership, and “fresh thinking” saying he wanted to work together with Democrats and Republicans to confront together challenges facing them across the world.

Kerry has built an impressive resume as an elder statesman in the US Senate, but failed in 2004 in his bid to win the White House.

The decorated Vietnam veteran turned anti-war activist failed to unseat George W. Bush after running a lackluster campaign in which he was bombarded by dubious ads attacking his military service.

But, as a top senator specializing in foreign affairs, Kerry has sat down with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, soothed nerves in Pakistan and visited the Gaza Strip, winning the respect of fellow Democrats and Republicans alike.

In nominating him, Obama praised Kerry's record on foreign affairs.

“He is not going to need a lot of on-the-job training,” Obama said last month, as Kerry stood next to him at the White House.

Kerry also vowed that the United States would work to stop Iran developing a nuclear weapon. He emphasized the continued need for diplomacy, but said there would be no policy of containment.

“The president has made it definitive, we will do what we must to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

“I repeat here today: our policy is not containment. It is prevention and the clock is ticking on our efforts to secure responsible compliance.”Echoing Obama's inauguration speech on Monday, Kerry highlighted climate change as a top foreign policy.

And he made a plea for America to restore its economic leadership, and for the administration and the lawmakers to overcome differences on budget and economic difficulties.

“I am especially cognizant of the fact that we can't be strong in the world unless we are strong at home, and the first priority of business which will affect my credibility as a diplomat working to help other countries create order, is whether America at last puts its own fiscal house in order.”


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