Washington: If diplomatic achievements were measured by the number of countries visited, Hillary Rodham Clinton would be the most accomplished secretary of state in history.
While historians will debate and eventually rate her tenure as America`s top diplomat, Clinton is already assured of a place in the State Department record book.
When her plane touches down at Andrews Air Force Base outside Washington early today morning, the former first lady will have completed an epic 13-day journey of 27,000 miles (43,450 kilometres), about 2,000 miles (3220 kilometres) more than the circumference of the Earth, through and over Europe to Asia and then doubling back to the Middle East.
One well-traveled Clinton staffer described the France-Afghanistan-Japan-Mongolia-Vietnam-Laos-Cambodia-Egypt- Israel itinerary as "especially absurd, even for us."
Despite the mind- and body-numbing time zone hopping, Clinton joked that she was ready for more.
"I appreciate being here, I am only sorry that I have to leave," she told reporters on her last stop yesterday, in Israel.
"My traveling team is anxious to get home. I`d like to be hanging out in Jerusalem, but, you know, I have to do my duty," she said with a sigh.
Since becoming secretary of state in 2009, Clinton has logged 351 days on the road, traveled to 102 countries and flown a whopping 843,839 miles, according to the State Department. While some previous secretaries may have flown more miles, mainly due to shuttling back and forth to the Mideast on peace missions, none has visited more nations.
Clinton broke that record last month, eclipsing Madeleine Albright`s total of 98, when she traveled to Finland for number 99 and then hit the 100 mark in Latvia.
Not content, she tacked on another two countries Mongolia and Laos, where she was the first secretary of state to visit in 57 years and only the second ever on her latest trip.