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Kerry's new job

US Secretary of State John Kerry has completed the first week in his new job.
Last modified: 8 Feb 2013 23:16
[Photo by Reuters]

John Kerry, the US secretary of state, has finished his first full week as America’s top diplomat. Since being sworn in last Friday, he has talked to every living secretary of state, met with the senior staff and had phone calls with more than a dozen foreign leaders.

His first engagement with the press came on Friday after meeting Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird. And he was asked about one of the major world crises - Syria. Kerry said, “We're evaluating now. We're taking a look at what steps if any, diplomatic, particularly, might be able to be taken in an effort to try to reduce that violence."

Kerry replaced Hillary Clinton who served as President Barack Obama's top diplomat for four years.

Upon arriving at the state department on Monday, Kerry acknowledged Clinton’s tenure and her popularity, saying he had big heels to fill.

"We have tough decisions to make, but I guarantee I'll do everything I can to live up to the high standards that Secretary Clinton and her team put in place," Kerry said.

Kerry is no stranger to Washington. He spent 28 years in the US Senate, and was sometimes the Obama administration's go-to diplomat in difficult situations.

In 2009, Kerry persuaded Afghan President Hamid Karzai to hold a run-off presidential election after he failed to secure a first round victory but was reluctant to do so.

Kerry’s relationship with Karzai may help smooth the upcoming transition from ISAF to full Afghan control expected to happen by the end of 2014.

Embracing the soft power element of diplomatic engagement, Kerry met with a group of Afghan music students on tour in the United States earlier this week.

The secretary of state told them, "We have very, very high hopes for your country that you can find peace and stability, and we will continue to work with you to try to do that."

Kerry is expected to make his first foreign trip in the coming weeks.