Secretary of State John Kerry bade farewell to colleagues on Thursday and made way for one of his deputies to take charge of US diplomacy until his successor is confirmed.
Incoming president Donald Trump has chosen former ExxonMobil chief Rex Tillerson to take over Kerry’s post, but the Texas oilman has yet to be approved by the Senate.
From noon on Friday (1700 GMT), the acting secretary will be Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Thomas Shannon, the highest-ranked non-political appointee in the department. Shannon, who later appeared next to Kerry as he gave a farewell speech to staff, had met Tillerson earlier Thursday, State Department spokesman John Kirby told reporters. “I was told it was brief and cordial,” he said.
Kerry has not met Tillerson since Trump named him nominee, but the pair have had a telephone conversation and Kirby played down reports about tension in the transition process.Meanwhile, outgoing US President Barack Obama on Friday left the Oval Office for the last time, as he prepares for the inauguration of his successor Donald Trump.Obama walked into the Oval Office holding a letter, which he placed on the Resolute desk—a 19th century desk used by many presidents. It is customary for the outgoing president to leave a personal note for his successor.—APP