Thursday, January 22, 2009

Clinton arrives at State Department – CNN's Elise Labott

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrived at her new office in the State Department Thursday morning, promising a renewed emphasis on candor and "robust diplomacy" as the primary means for advancing American interests around the world.

America's new chief diplomat walked through the front doors of the State Department lobby shortly after 9 a.m. ET to a thunderous round of applause from an overflow crowd of about 1,000 career diplomats and other department employees.

"I believe with all of my heart that this is a new era for America," Clinton told her colleagues. "President Obama set the tone with his inaugural address…. Robust diplomacy and effective development are the best long term tools for securing America's future."

In remarks that could be interpreted as a rebuke of the former Bush administration, Clinton also said that the Obama administration would not "tolerate the divisiveness and paralysis that has undermined our ability to get things done for America."

President Barack Obama is expected at the State Department later Thursday to speak to employees. Clinton also called for a new sense of candor and free exchange of ideas during her tenure. She urged the country's diplomatic corps to think "outside the proverbial box."

"There's nothing I welcome more than a good debate and the kind of dialogue that will make us better."

Clinton is scheduled to meet with Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and National Security Adviser Jim Jones at the State Department Thursday afternoon. Clinton and Obama are then expected to address the department's permanent staff.

On Thursday she will visit the US Agency for International Development, which she praised "for the work they've done on behalf of development through some very difficult years."

During her confirmation hearing, Clinton pledged to secure more resources for the State Department and USAID, which has seen a lot of its development work fall to the Pentagon during the Bush administration.

Clinton is America's 67th secretary of state.

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