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"The most powerful black American leader today"
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The BBC's Brian Barron in Washington DC
"A soldier-statesman of immense international experience"
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The BBC's Tom Carver in Washington DC
"The Bush family operate within a tight circle of family friends"
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Saturday, 16 December, 2000, 20:13 GMT
Bush appoints 'American hero'
Powell, Cheney and Bush
Powell wants his rise to be "an inspiration to ... all Americans"
US President-elect George W Bush has named retired General Colin Powell as the country's first black secretary of state.

Making the first appointment of his incoming White House administration, he described the former Gulf War leader as "an American hero, an American example and a great American story".

General Colin Powell is an American hero

George W Bush

The appointment was announced, with Mr Powell attending, at a ceremony in a high school in Crawford, near Mr Bush's Texas ranch.

In accepting the post - which must be ratified by the US Senate - the general said the administration was taking power in "times of challenge and danger, but we are up to the task".

Colin Powel during Joint Chiefs briefing
Powell won worldwide respect for his Gulf War role
He told reporters that the American military presence in the Balkans would be assessed to see if it was "proper" at a time when US troops were stretched thin around the globe.

Mr Powell described a series of global issues that would confront him as secretary of state, from "nations of the world that are transforming themselves, nations such as China and Russia," to those that are poorly led "by failed leaders pursuing failed polices".

Iraq threat

"We will stand strong with our allies against those nations that pursue weapons of mass destruction."

That included Iraq, which Mr Powell said had not fulfilled its obligations under the 1991 truce which ended the Gulf War.

He promised to work with America's allies to re-energise the sanctions regime on Iraq, which has been crumbling in recent months.

Israel received a restated US commitment during the ceremony. Mr Bush said that his administration would continue to pursue efforts towards peace in the Middle East, "based, as any peace must be, on a secure Israel".

Mr Bush has a race against time to complete his government line-up by the time he takes office on 20 January, after spending the first five post-election weeks in legal battles to secure the presidency.

Gulf war fame

Mr Powell, 63, comes from Jamaican parentage, and served as the first black chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff - America's highest ranking soldier - under the presidency of George Bush senior.

Rumoured appointments
Condoleezza Rice - national security adviser
Andrew Card - Chief of Staff
Al Gonzales - White House counsel
He shot to world fame in 1990 when, as chairman of the Joint Chiefs, he ran the successful campaign to eject Iraqi forces which had invaded Kuwait.

In some early reaction, UK Foreign Secretary Robin Cook welcomed Mr Powell's appointment and called him a "good friend of Britain".

The president-elect is expected to announce the appointment of Condoleezza Rice, another black American, as his national security adviser on Sunday, party sources said.

Another imminent appointment is thought to be Texas Supreme Court justice Al Gonzales, who Republican sources said was moving to Washington to become White House counsel for Mr Bush.

Bi-partisan effort

Mr Bush is thought to be considering appointing Democrats as part of his effort to heal the wounds left by the legal fight with Al Gore.

President Clinton has spoken optimistically of Mr Bush's prospects for uniting the split nation he must now govern.

What happens next
18 Dec - electoral college meets to elect president
6 Jan - Congress counts electoral college votes
20 Jan - Bush inaugurated as president

"The country... will adjust very quickly. It will be fine," he told reporters as he flew home from a visit to the UK. Mr Bush is due to meet Mr Clinton and his defeated rival, Al Gore on Tuesday, a move which Vice-President-elect Dick Cheney has described as being "very important to healing the wounds".

Mr Gore conceded the election on Wednesday night, ending the longest and most complex US presidential election for well over a century.

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See also:

16 Dec 00 | Americas
Colin Powell: Bush's trump card
16 Dec 00 | Americas
In pictures: Gore parties on
16 Dec 00 | UK Politics
Cook hails Powell as 'good friend'
16 Dec 00 | Americas
High-tech not high priority for Bush
16 Dec 00 | Americas
Pressure mounts for electoral reform
14 Dec 00 | Entertainment
Bush gets Hollywood approval
16 Dec 00 | Americas
Powell's speech - excerpts
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