Powell praised as 'voice of moderation'
Secretary of State announces he's leaving post
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Secretary of State Colin Powell was praised Monday as a "great statesman" and a "voice of moderation" after he announced his decision not to serve a second term.
Two senior Bush administration officials told CNN that national security adviser Condoleezza Rice is the president's choice to replace Powell. Her nomination could be announced as early as Tuesday.
Powell told reporters that he would stay on until his successor was confirmed, which he predicted would take between a few weeks and two months. (Powell announces resignation)
Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat was one of the voices who praised Powell.
"In our deliberations with him, he has gained our highest respect and appreciation," Erakat said. "He's a fair man and highly dignified and will indeed leave his mark on international politics."
Palestinians have regarded Powell as one of the administration's moderate voices. Although Bush refused to deal with Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat, who died last week, Powell traveled to Ramallah to meet with him in 2002 while his compound was surrounded by Israeli tanks.
Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom said he was "very sorry" to hear of Powell's resignation.
"You are a very good friend of Israel, but more than that, you are a very good friend of peace," Shalom told Powell as the two of them faced reporters after a meeting at the State Department. "You have done everything you can in order to have better time, better future in our region, to have more stability, to bring hope to our peoples there."
Jordanian Deputy Prime Minister Marwan Muasher described Powell's imminent departure as a blow to the peace process.
"Colin Powell was somebody who understood the words, who truly listened and who cared about the problems of the world," Muasher said. "I hate to see him go precisely at the time when the prospects for a breakthrough are improving."
Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa also expressed regret.
"He knew how to be with friends and allies, and he knew the intricacies of major problems in the Middle East. True, nothing really materialized, but he was a voice of moderation and did good things in a way that all of us had respect for him as secretary of state."
In London, British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw described Powell as "a man who has been tireless in his work for the United States, tireless in his work for NATO and the trans-Atlantic alliance, tireless in his work for peace in the world ... a very, very fine man, great soldier, great statesman."
Asked whether he sympathized with Powell in his dealings with the Pentagon, with which the secretary often butted heads, Straw demurred.
"My discussions with Secretary Powell have the confidentiality of the confessional," he said.
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said Powell "was always very good to deal with."
"I think he's made many friends who I hope will all stay in touch with him," Annan said. "I wish him every success in his future endeavors."
Sen. Joseph Biden of Delaware, the top Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, also praised Powell.
"Even after four difficult years in a bitterly divided administration, Colin Powell leaves the State Department with his head held high and an unmatched reputation for integrity and wisdom," he said.
"He won some and he lost some, but he is a rare commodity in this town: a decent and classy guy who will be missed."
In a written statement, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi called his resignation "a great loss for the Bush administration and for the country."