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Obama Names Campaign Rival Hillary Clinton as His Secretary of State


President-elect Barack Obama has named his one-time political rival, New York Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, as his secretary of state. Clinton is expected to resign her Senate seat to prepare to lead U.S. foreign policy in the latest chapter in her long career. VOA's Deborah Tate reports from Washington.

Many observers are praising President-elect Obama's choice for secretary of state.

They said Hillary Clinton comes to the job with name recognition and a familiarity with foreign policy as a result of her service on the Senate Armed Services Committee.

In an interview on NBC television's "Meet the Press" program, former Republican Secretary of State James Baker said Clinton's nomination will be well-received by many around the world. But he added that she will need to hold the same views as the President-elect.

"She will be successful depending upon how seamless she is with her president, and how they operate together and how he protects her back," he said.

Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton were not always in agreement on foreign policy during their bitter campaign fight for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination -- as was evident during their debate in February:

OBAMA: "On what I believe was the single most important foreign policy decision of this generation -- whether or not to go to war in Iraq -- I believe I showed the judgment of a commander in chief. And I think that Senator Clinton was wrong in her judgments on that."

CLINTON: "There has been this difference between us over when and whether the president should offer a meeting -- without preconditions -- with those with whom we do not have diplomatic relations."

But those comments were made in the heat of a primary campaign. The two former rivals put aside their differences months ago, when it became clear that Clinton would not win the nomination.

CLINTON: "I know he will work for you, he'll fight for you and he'll stand up for you, every single day in the White House."

OBAMA: "Today I could not be happier that we're sharing this stage as allies to bring about the fundamental changes that this country so desperately needs."

Now, Mr. Obama wants to make Clinton the face of his foreign policy.

Clinton has become known for her diligence and attention to detail as a result of her eight years in the U.S. Senate and as first lady during her husband Bill Clinton's two terms as president. She has traveled widely during her career, as she noted during the presidential campaign.

"For more than 15 years, I've been honored to represent our country in more than 80 countries to negotiate on matters such as opening borders for refugees during the war in Kosovo, to standing up for women's rights as human rights around the world," said Senator Clinton.

Hillary Clinton has earned the respect of many in the U.S. Senate, often reaching across the political aisle to forge compromises. She is expected to face easy confirmation from her colleagues in the Senate.

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