U.S. President Barack Obama has nominated Democratic Senator John Kerry to be the next secretary of state.
Obama, making the announcement in the White House on December 21, said Kerry had "earned the respect and confidence of leaders around the world."
The 69-year-old Kerry is expected to be easily confirmed by the U.S. Senate, where he has served for nearly 30 years.
He will take over the State Department from Hillary Clinton, who has decided to step down. Clinton did not attend the announcement because she is still recovering from a concussion sustained in a fall.
Obama said Kerry's "entire life has prepared him for this role" and that "he will not need on-the-job training." (see John Kerry profile
"I think it is fair to say that few individuals know as many [foreign] presidents and prime ministers or grasp our foreign policy as firmly as John Kerry and this makes him a perfect choice to guide American diplomacy in the years ahead," Obama noted.
Obama added, "As we turn the page on a decade of war, he understands that we have to harness all elements of American power."
Kerry's nomination comes after U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice withdrew her name from consideration following harsh criticism from Republicans in Congress.
Kerry was the Democratic nominee for president in 2004. He has been a leading advocate in Congress for Obama's foreign-policy initiatives.
He has served as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and is a decorated Vietnam veteran who became an antiwar activist when he returned home.
He was chosen by the White House despite the fact that his Massachusetts's Senate seat will now be open and potentially vulnerable to a Republican challenge.
This is the first of three national-security-related cabinet nominations Obama is expected to make.
He is poised to nominate a new secretary of defense to succeed retiring Pentagon chief Leon Panetta. For that post, he is thought to be leaning toward choosing former Republican Senator Chuck Hagel, who, like Kerry, is also a veteran of the Vietnam War.
Obama will also soon name a new director of the Central Intelligence Agency to replace General David Petraeus, who resigned last month over an extramarital-affair scandal.