Washington: Bidding an emotional good bye to her staff on the final day as US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton said she is more optimistic today than she was four years ago.
"I know that the world we are trying to help bring into being in the 21st century will have many difficult days.
But I am more optimistic today than I was when I stood here four years ago," Clinton told hundreds of her employees at the Foggy Bottom headquarters of the State Department here yesterday.
"I am very proud of the work we have done together," Clinton, 65, told hundreds of cheering staff as she prepared to leave, having tendered her letter of resignation to President Barack Obama.
"It has been quite a challenging week saying goodbye to so many people and knowing that I will not have the opportunity to continue being part of this amazing team.
But I am so grateful that we`ve had a chance to contribute in each of our ways to making our country and our world stronger, safer, fairer and better," Clinton said, speaking as the Secretary of State for the last time.
"Next week I would expect that all of you will be as focused and dedicated for Secretary of State John Kerry as you have been for me and that you will continue to serve President Obama and our nation with the same level of professionalism and commitment that I have seen firsthand," she said.
Kerry, who was confirmed by the US Senate early this week, was sworn in as the top American diplomat at a private ceremony later in the day.
Clinton began the last day of hers at the State Department with an early morning meeting on the terrorist attack at the US Embassy in Turkey.
"We live in very complex and even dangerous times, as we saw again just today at our embassy in Ankara, where we were attacked and lost one of our foreign service nationals, and others injured," she said.
"I spoke with the Ambassador and the team there. I spoke with my Turkish counterpart. And I told them how much we valued their commitment and their sacrifice," she added.
Clinton steps down with record popularity ratings of around 65 percent, and amid intense speculation that she could launch a second bid to be the nation`s first woman president in the 2016 elections.
But so far Clinton has said she doesn`t see herself returning to politics, saying instead she wants to work on advocacy and philanthropy and continue "the cause of my life," furthering the rights of women and girls.
Political analysts however say she could be the Democratic Party`s best hope in four more years, and she would have good odds of breaking through that last glass ceiling.