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Clinton Takes Over at State Department, Vows to End Divisiveness


Former Senator and U.S. First Lady has officially taken up her duties as secretary of state. Clinton told assembled staff members she will depend on the advice of civil servants and work to end an era of divisiveness in Washington.

Clinton, confirmed by the Senate and sworn into office late Wednesday, was greeted by hundreds of employees packing the main lobby of the State Department as she began her first day on the job.

The new secretary of state said she will rely on the advice and expertise of the department's more than 20,000 foreign service and civil service employees as they jointly pursue the work of advancing U.S. national security, interests and values around the world.

Her remarks included no direct criticism of the previous Bush administration, but she also clearly suggested that President Barack Obama's team will be more welcoming of input from government workers, and less divisive.

"We want to send a clear and unequivocal message," she said. "This is a team and you are the members of that team. There is not anything that I can get done from the seventh floor, or the President can get done from the Oval Office, unless we make clear we are all on the American team. We are not, any longer, going to tolerate the kind of divisiveness that has paralyzed and undermined our ability to get things done for America."

Clinton depicted American foreign policy as having three parts - defense, diplomacy and development - and said the State Department and the affiliated U.S. Agency for International Development are responsible for the latter two.

In Senate testimony before her confirmation, she said she would work to build up the U.S. diplomatic corps as part of an exercise of "smart power" by the United States that leads with diplomacy, rather than the use of military force.

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, the lone cabinet holdover from the Republican Bush administration, is also a prominent advocate of such an approach.

To underscore the emphasis on diplomacy, President Obama and key aides are to visit the State Department later for a closed-door policy meeting with Clinton - to be followed by a presidential pep talk to staff members.

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