Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry has faced his peers during a confirmation hearing for his nomination as secretary of state.
In his opening comments, the Massachusetts senator and former presidential candidate said the United States must put its fiscal house in order if it wants to remain a global leader.
"More than ever, foreign policy is economic policy. The world is competing for resources and global markets. Every day that goes by where America is uncertain about engaging in that arena, unwilling to put our best foot forward and win, unwilling to demonstrate our resolve to lead, is a day in which we weaken our nation itself," he said.
Kerry has served on the committee during his entire 28 years in the Senate and chaired its proceedings for the past four. Outgoing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton introduced him to the panel, saying he will bring a record of leadership and service.
In announcing the nomination last month, President Barack Obama said as the son of a foreign service officer, Kerry has a deep respect for the members of the State Department.
Kerry promised to support the Obama administration's pursuit of a diplomatic resolution to Iran's nuclear program. "I will work to give diplomacy every effort to succeed. But no one should mistake our resolve to reduce the nuclear threat," he said.
He also said he would help support an Afghan-led reconciliation process with the Taliban if it is possible, and if it is not, he would help see that the Afghan government is sustained.
Kerry also said he hopes Washington can make progress in the Western Hemisphere with improved relations with Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador, much like the success the United States had with Colombia.
Kerry was the Democratic nominee in the 2004 presidential election, but lost to incumbent George W. Bush.
Kerry, the wealthiest U.S. senator, has promised to divest his expansive holdings in companies that could prove a conflict of interest to the nation's top diplomat. Those holdings include companies that do business with the U.S. government and others that could be affected by diplomatic decisions.
He was seen as a possibility for Secretary of State when President Barack Obama first took office, but was passed over for Hillary Clinton, who has served four years and is expected to step down soon.
Senator Robert Menendez is to succeed Kerry as Foreign Relations Committee chairman.