Washington: Having convalesced from a blood clot behind her right ear and the preceding concussion and stomach ailment, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton returned to office on Monday and besides receiving a grand standing ovation, she also received an unusual gift – a football helmet.
In what symbolised a shield against concussions, the football helmet with a seal of US State Department was wrapped in a big gift box and presented to her by Deputy Secretary Thomas Nides. Hillary was also gifted a football jersey with number 112 printed at back, symbolising the number of countries Hillary visited as Secretary of State.
Away from office for almost a month, Hillary fought a series of ailments that started with a stomach virus leading her to faint and then the resulting concussion that caused a blood clot behind her right ear. Doctors have now declared her fully recovered.
Donning a bright magenta jacket, when Hillary arrived at State Department for a meeting with top officials on Monday morning, she was greeted by a mass standing ovation by 75 people and was gifted the football helmet.
"She looks fantastic. She seems to be terrific," State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland said, after Clinton resumed her work at Foggy Bottom headquarters of the State Department and held meetings with her top officials.
However, at the advice of her doctors, she would not be travelling abroad, Nuland said.
"Judging by the woman we saw this morning and the workload that she`s got, she seems to be fully recovered," the spokeswoman said in response to a question.
"First of all he said, `As you know, Washington is a contact sport.` And (then) she opened the box, and inside was a football helmet with the State Department seal, lots of good padding, and also a football jersey that said Clinton on the back and on the front it says number 112, which symbolizes the number of countries that she`s," she said.
"She (Clinton) loved it. She thought it was cool. But then, being Hillary Clinton, she wanted to get right to business. So we do what we always do in that meeting, went around the room, and she heard from everybody what they`re working on and what`s coming forward," Nuland said.
Resuming to her hectic schedule, Clinton has a series of meetings lined up through the week including those at the White House and with the visiting Afghan President, Hamid Karzai, later this week.
"She did take the opportunity to reiterate to everybody that with regard to the Accountability Review Board recommendations that she wants to have every single one of those recommendations on its way to implementation by the time her successor is sworn in and takes up his duties, and that she`s expecting everybody to work hard in that regard. And then obviously, she was interested in hearing about all of the policies underway, particularly focused, obviously, on President Karzai`s visit later in the week," she said.
Clinton, she said, is now assisting Senator John Kerry in the transition.
Kerry has been nominated by the US President, Barack Obama, to succeed her.
She is also preparing for Congressional testimony on the hill on the terrorist attack in Benghazi that killed the US Ambassador to Libya, and two other US nationals.
"She has been talking to him virtually nonstop. She`s apparently had sort of daily phone calls, a number of phone calls. He (Kerry) is not in the building today. But as I said last week, she is 100 percent committed to having the smoothest possible transition, to helping him as much as possible, and she`ll be available as much as he needs her," the spokeswoman said.
Response to a question, Nuland said the State Department is working now with the Congressional committees on scheduling both the Benghazi hearing, the confirmation hearing, getting the sequence agreed with them.
"But as you probably know, they are now not coming back until right after the inaugural. So it obviously couldn’t be before then. But I don`t yet have dates to announce," she said.
With PTI Inputs