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Colin Powell Resigns as Secretary of State


US Secretary of State Colin Powell has resigned, as the second-term shakeup of President Bush's cabinet continues. At a brief news conference today, Mr. Powell said he always intended to serve only one term. He said he and President Bush had reached "mutual agreement" that it was time for him to move on, but he will remain in office until his successor is named.

In his resignation letter, Mr. Powell said he was pleased to be part of a team that, in his words, launched the global war against terrorism, liberated the Afghan and Iraqi people, and brought the world's attention to the problem of nuclear proliferation.

Carole Lancaster is the director of African Studies at Georgetown University in Washington, DC. She says Mr. Powell’s resignation may be normal turnover in an administration entering its second term of office. But she notes that news reports today suggested that he and the president both agreed to his leaving and that the president did not try to persuade him to stay. There is a strong indication that National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice may take his job.

Some newspapers say there was a power struggle between the State Department and the Department of Defense over US foreign policy under the first Bush administration. Ms. Lancaster says the State Department had the weaker position in the dispute over Iraq and that the Defense Department usually has more say in security issues and the use of military force than the Department of State. She also says Mr. Powell did not seem to be as close to the president as the secretary of defense.

When Secretary of State Powell, who is the first African-American to serve in the post, was sworn in, some hoped that Africa would benefit from his stewardship. But Ms. Lancaster says Africa and the rest of the world were largely ignored after 9/11 and the military intervention in Afghanistan and Iraq. On the other hand, she says the administration and Congress did agreed to a major increase in funding for HIV/AIDS efforts on the continent. Ms. Lancaster says the administration’s attention is likely to remain focused on the war on terror and Iraq, although that attention may change depending on developments on the continent, and whether a new Secretary of State has specific interest in Africa.