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The Secretary of State is a senior official in the Federal Government of the United States of America heading the Department of State, principally concerned with foreign affairs and is considered to be the U.S. equivalent of a foreign minister. The Secretary of State, appointed by the President with the advice and consent of the Senate, is a member of the President's Cabinet, the National Security Council, and is the highest-ranking appointed executive branch official both in the presidential line of succession and the order of precedence. The Secretary of State along with the Secretary of the Treasury, the Secretary of Defense, and the Attorney General are generally regarded as the four most important cabinet members because of the importance of their respective departments. Secretary of State is a Level I position in the Executive Schedule and thus earns the salary prescribed for that level. The current Secretary of State is John Kerry, the 68th person to hold the office since its creation in 1789. (via Freebase)