Kerry urges ‘fresh thinking’ to tackle global woes
WASHINGTON (AFP) – Probable next US secretary of state John Kerry called for “fresh thinking” Thursday as he outlined his foreign policy agenda and plans for relations with Iran, China and the Middle East.
“American foreign policy is not defined by drones and deployments alone,” he told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which must decide whether to not to confirm Kerry in the post of America’s top diplomat.
“We cannot allow the extraordinary good that we do to save and change lives to be eclipsed entirely by the role that we have had to play since September 11th, a role that was thrust upon us, he said.
US foreign policy is also about aid, and food security, fighting disease, poverty and repression, and giving “voice to the voiceless, Kerry said.
Kerry – a Democratic senator best known outside the United States for his unsuccessful 2004 presidential campaign – was nominated last month by President Barack Obama to take over from Hillary Clinton.
During his almost four-hour hearing, he laid out his thoughts on some of the world’s top challenges in a measured, non-confrontational way, earning praise and a warm welcome from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.
He warned Iran the US would do “what we must” to stop it getting a nuclear weapon, told China he would work to strengthen ties and hinted he had an idea to breathe fresh life into the Middle East peace process.
Kerry also vowed to be “a passionate advocate” to tackle climate change, urged the United States to build up its presence in Africa, and said Washington needed to “re-engage” with the fight against drug-trafficking in Latin America.
“I think you’ve acquitted yourself exceptionally well and know you’re going to be confirmed in the next very few days,” the top Republican member, Senator Bob Corker, said at the end of the hearing.
Sitting across from the committee which he has been a member of for 29 years, and which he has chaired since 2009, Kerry joked that he suddenly felt some sympathy for those he has grilled over the years.