Obama turns to Hillary Clinton to renew American diplomacy

December 2nd, 2008 - 10:27 am ICT by IANS  

Barack ObamaChicago, Dec 2 (IANS) US President-elect Barack Obama has named Hillary Clinton, his rival for the Democratic presidential nomination, as secretary of sate, calling her an “American of tremendous stature who will have my complete confidence.”"Hillary’s appointment is a sign to friend and foe of the seriousness of my commitment to renew American diplomacy and restore our alliances,” Obama said at a news conference in Chicago to announce his national security team Monday.

“I have no doubt that Hillary Clinton is the right person to lead our State Department and to work with me in tackling this ambitious foreign policy agenda.”

Obama also asked Defence Secretary Robert Gates to stay on in that job, citing the need for continuity as the US fights two wars.

“He restored accountability. He won the confidence of military commanders, and the trust of our brave men and women in uniform and their families,” he said of the 65-year-old official, who has been lauded by members of both Republican and Democratic parties since taking over the Pentagon from Donald Rumsfeld in late 2006.

Obama, who takes office Jan 20, also named Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano as homeland security secretary, Eric Holder as attorney general, retired Marine Gen. James Jones as national security adviser and long-time adviser Susan Rice as ambassador to the United Nations.

Introducing the full team Obama said he aimed to implement a “new dawn of American leadership” that integrates military, diplomacy, law enforcement and the economy.

“The team that we have assembled here today is uniquely suited to do just that,” Obama said. “They share my pragmatism about the use of power, and my sense of purpose about America’s role as leader in the world,” he added.

Obama, who has pledged to be more inclusive and says he has a vision of renewing America’s leadership in world affairs after President George W. Bush’s eight years in office, said he admires Hillary Clinton’s work ethic and also believes the former first lady’s star power would boost his vision of improving America’s global standing.

Clinton said leaving the Senate would be difficult for her, but said she believes that the best way for her to continue to serve the country is by joining Obama’s administration.

“Mr. President-elect, I am proud to join you on what will be a difficult and exciting adventure in this new century,” she said at the news conference.

Clinton’s husband, former President Bill Clinton, who was not at the event Monday, issued a statement expressing his support for his wife.

“In her service to the people of New York and our nation, Hillary has demonstrated the knowledge, passion, resilience, and capacity to learn that our country needs at this critical time.

“She loves being a senator from New York, but as she has in all the 37 years I’ve known her, she answered the call to serve. I commend President-Elect Obama for asking her to be a part of a great national security team. America will be well-served,” he said in a statement.

Asked how he can be sure that his administration will function as a team of rivals and not a clash of rivals, Obama said he has assembled a group of “outstanding public servants” who share a core vision for the country.

“I am very confident that each of these individuals are not going to be leaving the outstanding work that they are currently doing if they weren’t convinced that they could work as an effective team,” Obama said.

Obama added that he is a strong believer in “strong personalities and strong opinions.”

Obama also noted, however, that he would have the final word in setting national security policy. “The buck will stop with me,” Obama said.

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