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Feb 4, 2013 9:48 AM by Associated Press

Kerry has 'big heels to fill' at State Dept.

WASHINGTON (AP) - Newly installed Secretary of State John Kerry says he has "big heels to fill."

Starting work Monday, the former senator and 2004 presidential candidate was greeted by loud cheers from America's foreign service workers. One held up a "Welcome JFK" sign.

Succeeding women secretaries of state Hillary Rodham Clinton and Condoleezza Rice, Kerry asked in jest: "Can a man actually run the State Department?"

Praising Clinton, he also said, "I have big heels to fill."

Kerry is the son of a diplomat and was chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for four years. Greeting State Department staff, he spoke of his childhood time in Germany and learning the virtues of freedom.

Kerry said he and President Barack Obama needed help to make America safer and the world more prosperous and peaceful.

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