Obama poised to name Kerry for top US diplomatic post

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US president Barack Obama is imminently expected to nominate Senate foreign relations committee chairman John Kerry to succeed Hillary Clinton as secretary of state.

Mr Kerry, the Democratic nominee for president in 2004 and a stalwart Obama supporter, had been widely tipped as the likely candidate for top US diplomat following the withdrawal last week of US ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice.

The announcement of Mr Kerry’s nomination could come as early as mid-week, according to one inside source.

The source said the White House is leaning toward unveiling Mr Kerry’s nomination as part of a high-profile package that would include his pick for defence secretary.

Former Republican US Senator Chuck Hagel is the top candidate to take over the Pentagon and the White House’s vetting process for him is virtually complete, the source said.

Mrs Clinton, consistently rated as the most popular of Mr Obama’s cabinet, intends to step down toward the end of January when Mr Obama is sworn in for a second term.

The State Department said on Saturday she was recovering from illness.