Army veteran Mark Esper was sworn-in as US Secretary of Defence at a ceremony attended by President Donald Trump in Washington DC on Tuesday.

The US Senate confirmed Trump's nominee - by 90 votes in favour to 8 against - to succeed Jim Mattis, fired seven months earlier over disagreements with Trump. "That's a vote that we're not accustomed to, Mark, I have to say that," joked Trump.

In a short speech after taking the oath, Esper said he was honoured: "to be appointed Secretary of Defence and to lead the greatest military in history."

Esper taking the reins at the Pentagon ends the longest period the office has ever gone without filling the role. The new Secretary of Defence takes office amid several international crises, in particular tensions with Iran in the Middle East.

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