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US Senate has confirmed John Kerry as the new Secretary of State to replace Hillary Clinton in the country's top diplomatic post.

President Barack Obama's nomination for Kerry passed easily through the US Senate on Tuesday, with his fellow senators voting overwhelmingly to confirm him as Clinton's replacement.

The vote was 94-3 in favor. The three "no" votes were all Republican senators, two from Texas and one from Oklahoma. Kerry, the senior Democratic senator from Massachusetts, voted "present".

Kerry already has strong links to Afghanistan which he spoke of in his confirmation senate hearing last week.

He highlighted the war in Afghanistan and indicated he had some involvement in securing the presidency for Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

"I went through this personally with President Karzai in the last election where there were serious questions about the propriety of the process and we had to sort of strike a compromise about it," he said. "I don't think there'll be room for a compromise in the aftermath here. I will certainly make sure that we're riding hard on it, very, very closely."

Kerry stressed that the key to stabilising Afghanistan and the international community's continued assistance would lie in ensuring next year's presidential election is legitimate.

"Having an acceptable election – it's not going to be perfect, we're not going to be able to have perfection in this process for a lot of different reasons – but having an election that passes muster and is acceptable according to international standards and observers will be critical to our ability to have the kind of transition we want to have, and to have confidence that the government that succeeds in 2014 has legitimacy," he said.

"If it doesn't have legitimacy, if we don't succeed in that effort, it's going to be very, very difficult to convince the American people, and to convince our allies in Isaf and beyond, to stay engaged in this effort."

Kerry, who has been a US senator for 28 years and the losing presidential candidate in 2004, will be sworn in later this week while his Massachusetts senate seat will have a special election to find his replacement.

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