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Kerry nomination hearing set for January 24

Senator John Kerry in the White House on December 21, 2012
Senator John Kerry smiles as the US President announces him as his choice for the next secretary of state in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, DC on December 21, 2012. The US Senate will convene a nomination hearing January 24 for one o

The US Senate will convene a nomination hearing January 24 for one of its own, John Kerry, whom President Barack Obama has named as his next secretary of state.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee said Thursday that it will quiz Kerry, whose hearing comes just one day after outgoing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was due to testify at a House hearing about the deadly attack on a US mission in Libya.

Kerry has chaired the influential Foreign Relations Committee since 2009, and he has made clear that he will not preside over his own nomination hearing.

Fellow Democrat Robert Menendez has been delegated the role, according to the committee.

Kerry, 69, is a decorated Vietnam War veteran, defeated former presidential candidate and foreign policy sage who has met with dozens of global leaders, and he is expected to easily win confirmation from his Senate colleagues.

"I think it's fair to say that few individuals know as many presidents and prime ministers or grasp our foreign policies as firmly as John Kerry," Obama said last month in announcing his pick.

"He is not going to need a lot of on-the-job training."

Kerry had stepped up following the withdrawal of UN ambassador Susan Rice, the early favorite for the post, who was caught in the political aftermath of the attack of the US mission in Benghazi, Libya in September.

From day one Kerry will face a portfolio bulging with foreign policy challenges, including a critical moment in the Iranian nuclear showdown, what could be the last throes of the Assad regime in Syria, and a growing security crisis in Mali.

Kerry's hearing will be followed one week later by a confirmation hearing for Republican former senator Chuck Hagel, who has been tapped to be Obama's next defense secretary.

Obama begins his second presidential term on Sunday.

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