Leaving State Department in excellent hands: Hillary Clinton

Outgoing US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Wednesday expressed sadness at stepping down as America`s top diplomat.

Updated: Jan 31, 2013, 08:42 AM IST

Washington: Outgoing US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Wednesday expressed sadness at stepping down as America`s top diplomat but assured staffers that she is leaving the State Department in excellent hands of her successor John Kerry.

"I know I`m leaving the Department in excellent hands. John Kerry was a very accomplished senator, and he will be the same as Secretary of State. He brings judgement, experience, vision, and a deep understanding, because of his own family with his father having been in the Foreign Service, to what diplomacy requires," Hillary Clinton said in her final address to the State Department employees.

Friday is her last day at the State Department.

"I am very sad to leave all of you and to leave behind the institution here where I have been so proud to serve on behalf of the American people. It will be very hard over the next few days to say goodbye to the terrific men and women at State and USAID because I will truly miss you," she said.

"I will miss the incredible sense of commitment that you bring to the work we do, the exacting standards you hold yourselves and others to, the fun that we`ve occasionally had in travelling and working together. But I will mostly be very proud and grateful that I had the chance to be the 67th Secretary of State," Hillary Clinton said.

Hillary Clinton said the last for years have been a remarkable honour and experience for her.

"That is thanks to all of you, to the professionals, men and women who get up every day and work for the State Department and USAID on behalf of our common mission and values and the country that we love," Hillary Clinton said.

"Every day during my tenure over the last four years, whether I was in Washington or in some remote corner of the world, I have been so proud of your dedication, your professionalism, your ingenuity, your integrity," she said.

The top American diplomat said she walked into the door of the State Department more than four years ago determined to elevate diplomacy and development as pillars of US foreign policy alongside defence, because she was convinced they were critical for solving problems and seizing opportunities worldwide.

"And I will walk out the door this Friday even more convinced of that because of the work that we have done together during some challenging and even tumultuous times," she said.

"We have faced all manners of events, from democratic revolutions in North Africa, to earthquakes in Haiti and Japan, to the end of the war in Iraq, the beginning of the transition in Afghanistan, the rebuilding of the global economy, breakthroughs in places like Burma and Somalia, the signing of a New START Treaty, and on and on," Hillary Clinton said.

"Diplomacy and development have been vital to these and so many other efforts that we have undertaken together," Hillary Clinton added.

"As I`ve looked back over the past four years, I think, through it all, we have remained focused on our long term goals: advancing American interests, defending universal values, protecting our security, helping more people in more places live up to their God-given potential," Hillary Clinton said.

"And along the way we`ve lost friends and loved ones. Some, like Richard Holbrooke and Chris Stevens, were giants of American diplomacy. Others were men and women, many far too young, with long futures ahead of them, so much promise and passion. All of them were patriots, and we honour their memories by carrying forward this important work," she said.