US Senate gives nod to Kerry as secretary of state

Updated 30 January 2013
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US Senate gives nod to Kerry as secretary of state

WASHINGTON: John Kerry’s nomination as President Barack Obama’s new secretary of state sailed through the US Senate on Tuesday as his fellow senators voted overwhelmingly to confirm him to replace Hillary Clinton as the country’s top diplomat.
The vote was 94-3 in favor. The two senators from Texas, John Cornyn and Ted Cruz, and Oklahoma Senator James Inhofe, all Republicans, were the only no votes.
Three senators did not vote. Kerry, the senior Democratic senator from Massachusetts, voted “present.”
Kerry’s easy confirmation had been expected. The Senate agreed to vote quickly after his confirmation hearing last week. The Foreign Relations Committee had voted unanimously by voice vote earlier on Tuesday to back his nomination.
The Senate’s approval sets in motion a special election for Kerry’s Massachusetts Senate seat. The five-term senator and losing presidential candidate in 2004 is expected to be sworn later this week.
Senator Robert Menendez, chairman of the Foreign Relations committee, said before the roll call that a heavy vote for Kerry would send a “strong message” to the rest of the world that he had the firm backing of the entire United States.
Senator Bob Corker, the top Republican on the Foreign Relations committee, praised Kerry’s testimony on Thursday. “I thought that Senator Kerry acquitted himself exceptionally well in the hearings that we had last week,” he said on the Senate floor.
Kerry, beaming, was warmly congratulated by his fellow senators after the vote.
At the hearing of the Foreign Affair Committee, which he has chaired for four years, Kerry was visibly moved by applause and praise from his fellow senators.
“I’m honored beyond words,” he said, before making brief remarks about the importance of the committee going forward on issues like Middle East peace.
Kerry, who became a US senator 28 years ago, said he will make a final speech on the Senate floor on Wednesday.
“What a privilege to work with you and now to work with you in a different way. I thank you very, very much,” Kerry said.


Eritrea responds to Ethiopia PM’s olive branch

Updated 20 June 2018
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Eritrea responds to Ethiopia PM’s olive branch

  • Eritrea and Ethiopia remain bitter foes after a 1998-2000 conflict that drew comparisons to the First World War
  • Even after the end of the war, the border remains heavily militarised and disputed

ADDIS ABABA: Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki is dispatching a delegation to Addis Ababa for “constructive engagement” with arch-foe Ethiopia after peace overtures this month from its new Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed, a senior Eritrean diplomat said on Wednesday.
Isais made the annoucement — a potentially significant breakthrough in one of Africa’s most protracted conflicts — earlier on Wednesday, Eritrea’s ambassador to Japan, Estifanos Afeworki, said on Twitter. He gave no further details.
Eritrean information minister Yemane Ghebremeskel did not respond to requests for comment.
Eritrea and Ethiopia remain bitter foes after a 1998-2000 conflict that drew comparisons to the First World War, with waves of conscripts forced to march through minefields toward Eritrean trenches, where they were cut down by machine gun fire.
Casuality figures are disputed in both countries although most estimates suggest 50,000 Ethiopian soldiers died, against 20,000 on the Eritrean side.
Even after the end of the war, the border remains heavily militarised and disputed, most notably the town of Badme which was part of Eritrea, according to a 2002 international arbitration ruling.
Since then, Addis has ignored the ruling and refused to pull out troops or officials, to the fury of Asmara.
However, Abiy, a 41-year-old former soldier who has embarked on a radical economic and political reform drive since taking over in March, stunned Ethiopians this month when he said Addis would honor all the terms of the settlement between the two countries, suggesting he was prepared to cede Badme.
In parliament this week, Abiy also acknoewledged the tensions continued to inflict a heavy economic cost on both countries and said Addis should no longer hide this price tag from the Ethiopian people, another stunning departure with the past.
There has so far been no official response to Abiy’s overtures from Eritrea, one of the Africa’s most closed states.