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Senators endorse new Clinton role

Hillary Clinton: 'This could be one of the golden eras of the Senate'

Hillary Clinton has been endorsed as President-elect Barack Obama's secretary of state by the US Senate's foreign relations committee.

The final vote on her appointment will be taken in the Senate after the inauguration of Mr Obama on 20 January.

During the hearing, Mrs Clinton promised a departure from the foreign policy of the Bush administration.

Meanwhile, the nominee for attorney-general described the interrogation technique of waterboarding as torture.

Eric Holder's statement during his Senate confirmation hearing about the harsh tactic, which simulates drowning, is a clear break from the Bush administration.

Attorney General Michael Mukasey and his predecessor, Alberto Gonzales, both said the US did not torture detainees, but stopped short of saying whether that term included waterboarding.

I agree with you, Mr Chairman, waterboarding is torture
Eric Holder

The CIA has admitted using the technique on at least three terrorism suspects, including the alleged mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.

Mr Holder, who could become the first African-American US attorney general, faces some opposition from Republican members of the panel.

He has come under criticism for his role in advising former President Bill Clinton to pardon in 2001 the fugitive financier, Marc Rich, whose wife had donated money to Mr Clinton's presidential library.

During Thursday's hearing, Mr Holder reiterated that he regretted not studying the pardon more closely at the time.

'New' policy

The Senate Foreign Relations committee voted in favour of Mrs Clinton's appointment by 16 to one.

The BBC's Kim Ghattas in Washington says the one vote against Mrs Clinton came as no surprise.

[The Clinton Foundation] could produce explosions at any minute, particularly concerning the Middle East where we least need them
Senator David Vitter

David Vitter, a Republican senator from Louisiana, had sparred with her on Tuesday as he prodded her about her husband's non-profit foundation and his foreign donors, our correspondent says.

In a statement issued shortly after the vote, Senator Vitter called the foundation a "multi-million dollar minefield of conflicts of interest".

"This could produce explosions at any minute, particularly concerning the Middle East where we least need them," he added.

There are concerns about a conflict of interest among other members, our correspondent adds, but the chairman of the committee, Senator John Kerry, said he was confident Mrs Clinton would give those concerns full consideration.

Mrs Clinton has agreed to publish an annual list of the foundation's donors and alert ethics officials to potential conflicts of interests, which she says goes above and beyond what existing regulations demand.

The former first lady is expected to give her farewell speech to the Senate later on Thursday.

Speaking before the committee on Tuesday, she said US leadership in the world had been "wanting but was still wanted", and that the incoming administration's foreign policy would be a mix of diplomatic, economic and military tools.

"America cannot solve the most pressing problems on our own, and the world cannot solve them without America," said the New York senator.

"We must use what has been called 'smart power', the full range of tools at our disposal," she added.

"With 'smart power', diplomacy will be the vanguard of foreign policy."

She also said that ending the war in Iraq was a priority, and that the new US government wanted to lift travel restrictions on Americans with families in Cuba.

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