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Secretary Clinton Reports for Duty at State Department

Posted January. 24, 2009 05:52,   


New U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton showed up for her first day of work at the State Department amid much fanfare.

CNN, MSNBC, Fox News and other major media aired live her first day on the job. Some 1,000 diplomats and staff on the first and second floors welcomed “Madam Secretary” with a round of applause.

Some took photos of her with their cell phones as if she was a rock star.

Instead of entering her office on the seventh floor, Clinton gave a short speech on the steps toward the second floor. “"I believe with all of my heart that this is a new era for America," she said.

Clinton said she will pursue a strategy of smart power, adding, "I want you to understand there is nothing that I welcome more than a good debate and the kind of dialogue that will make us better."

“There are three legs to the stool of American foreign policy: defense, diplomacy and development. And we are responsible for two of the three legs. And we will make clear, as we go forward, that diplomacy and development are essential tools in achieving the long-term objectives of the United States.”

She added, "It is not easy to restore U.S. leadership in the international community. International terrorism, nuclear programs in Iraq and North Korea, and conflicts between Arabs and Israel are also very difficult challenges.”

In the afternoon, Clinton named George Mitchell special envoy for the Middle East peace process and Richard Holbrooke special representative to Afghanistan. President Barack Obama and Vice President Joseph Biden attended the event.

President Obama said, “I`ve given you an early gift -- Hillary Clinton. In her, you will have a secretary of state who has my full confidence," eliciting applause and laughter.

“We must recognize that America’s strength comes not just from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from our enduring values.”

Vice President Biden said, “Mr. President, your choice of our colleague, Senator Clinton, is absolutely the right person, in my view, at the right moment in American history. We’ve come here today to the State Department to send a very clear message, a clear message at home as well as abroad that we are going to invigorate America’s commitment to diplomacy.”

The Korean Foreign Affairs and Trade Ministry said Clinton had a phone conversation with Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan, who is visiting Australia, and agreed to hold a summit and high-level meeting as soon as possible.

The Japanese Foreign Ministry said Clinton and Japanese Foreign Minister Hirofumi Nakasone over the phone agreed to cooperate on North Korea’s nuclear program and past abductions of Japanese nationals, stabilize Afghanistan and Pakistan, and deal with the global economic crisis.

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