December 2, 2008

Obama names Clinton as Secretary of State

United States President-elect, Barack Obama, has nominated his former rival, Hillary Clinton, as his Secretary of state.

Obama described the former First Lady as a woman of ”tremendous stature” who had his ”complete confidence.”

Clinton lost out to Obama when the two contested a bitterly fought race for the Democratic Party presidential nomination.

At a news conference in Chicago on Monday, Obama also announced nominations for other key National Security team posts.

Obama said the time had come for a ”new dawn of American leadership to overcome the challenges of the 21st century, and to seize the opportunities embedded in those challenges.”

Obama said Robert Gates would remain as defence secretary, while retired Marine Gen. James Jones was named as White House national security adviser.

Former Justice Department official, Eric Holder, was nominated as attorney general and Arizona Governor, Janet Napolitano, as secretary of homeland security.

Obama‘s foreign policy team under Hillary Clinton will reassure the more hawkish elements in the US, but might disappoint those who wanted a more radical shift, says BBC News website world affairs correspondent, Paul Reynolds.

Obama said of Clinton, ”She‘s an American of tremendous stature who will have my complete confidence, who knows many of the world‘s leaders, who will command respect in every capital, and who will clearly have the ability to advance our interests around the world.”

”Hillary‘s appointment is a sign to friend and foe of the seriousness of my commitment to renew American diplomacy and restore our alliances,” said Obama.

Although the two repeatedly clashed during the nomination race, Clinton went on to campaign for Obama as he took on Republican John McCain in the race for the White House.

Former president Bill Clinton had cleared the way for his wife‘s appointment by reaching a complicated agreement on his financial arrangements, reports said.

The BBC said there had been fears her nomination could falter over the appearance of conflicts of interest between her husband‘s charitable foundation and lucrative speechmaking schedule.

Clinton has agreed to release the list of donors to his foundation by the end of the year, officials overseeing the presidential transition said.

He has also agreed to submit future engagements, speeches and sources of income to the State Department and the White House and to take a more behind-the-scenes role in the daily running of his foundation, sources said.

Clinton pledged to give the job ”her all.”

“The American people have demanded not just a new direction at home, but a new effort to renew America‘s standing in the world as a force for positive change,” she said.

The current secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, praised Clinton as an ”inspiration” who would ”bring enormous energy and intellect” to the role.

”And most important I know her to be somebody who has what you need most in this job: which is a deep love of the United States of America.”

Announcing his team, Obama said, ”The national security challenges we face are just as great and just as urgent as our economic crisis.”

Announcing that Robert Gates would remain in his job, Obama said he would be given ”a new mission” to ”responsibly” end the war in Iraq.

”We will also ensure that we have the strategy - and resources - to succeed against al Qaeda and the Taleban,” said Obama.

Selecting Gates - who was appointed by President George W. Bush two years ago - allows Obama to honour a promise to name at least one Republican cabinet member.

The BBC‘s Justin Webb in Washington reported that the re-appointment of Gates was a sign of pragmatism that would please those who had urged Obama to be cautious, but could also upset those who had wanted a clean break from the previous administration.

Gates said he was ”deeply honoured” to be asked to continue and that he did so with ”a profound sense of personal responsibility, to and for our men and women in uniform and their families”.

Retired General James Jones - a former top commander of NATO and US forces in Europe - was nominated as national security adviser.

He served in the Bush administration as a Middle East adviser.

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