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Saturday, 16 December, 2000, 23:55 GMT
Cook hails Powell as 'good friend'
General Colin Powell accepting the nomination as Secretary of State
General Powell is a respected public figure in the US
UK Foreign Secretary Robin Cook has welcomed President-elect George W Bush's nomination of retired general Colin Powell as US Secretary of State, saying the Gulf War veteran was "a good friend of Britain".

Mr Powell, 63, one of the most admired public figures in the US, will be the first black person to hold the post, which carries responsibility for foreign affairs.

"I warmly welcome the nomination of Gen Colin Powell as US Secretary of State-designate," said Mr Cook. "Gen Powell is a good friend of Britain."

He is a distinguished general and politician and I look forward to working with him

Robin Cook
Britain and the US have been close allies throughout the Clinton administration and during the earlier Bush and Reagan regimes, under which Mr Powell served.

Mr Cook praised the general's role during the 1991 Gulf War.

"The British Government and armed forces worked closely with him during the successful allied operation to expel Iraq from Kuwait.

British troops in the Gulf War
Britain and the US worked together during the Gulf War
"He is a distinguished general and politician and I look forward to working with him."

Mr Bush announced his first Cabinet choice at a high school near his Texas ranch with Mr Powell at his side.

"General Powell is an American hero, an American example and a great American story," Mr Bush told his audience.

Mr Powell was the first black person to serve as America's top military officer, stepping down as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in 1993. He has since worked in a voluntary role for children's charities.

Challenges and crises

Accepting Mr Bush's nomination, Mr Powell told the president-elect he would be faced with many challenges and crises during his administration.

"I believe these challenges and these crises will pale in comparison to the wonderful opportunities that await us," he said.

If America withdraws into itself the world will be much less secure

Menzies Campbell
Liberal Democrat defence and foreign affairs spokesman Menzies Campbell warned that global security would suffer if the president-elect led the US to take a more isolationist stance than under Bill Clinton.

"Colin Powell's remarkable achievement should not obscure the fact that if America withdraws into itself the world will be much less secure," he said.

"In the Balkans, the US contribution was the protection of human rights and this has been invaluable.

"Without American forces in the air and on the ground many more people would have been killed or driven from their homes.

"As the only superpower, the US has moral obligations as well as its own interests to protect."

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See also:

16 Dec 00 | Americas
Bush appoints 'American hero'
16 Dec 00 | Americas
Colin Powell: Bush's trump card
16 Dec 00 | Americas
Powell's speech - excerpts
15 Dec 00 | Americas
US blacks remain uneasy
14 Dec 00 | Americas
Bush to lead a nation divided
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