Outgoing U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says she is proud of her work heading the State Department as she stepped down from the post after four years in office.
Clinton told employees at the State Department Friday that she is more optimistic today than when she arrived on the job because of the agency's work to advance peace and prosperity around the world.
However, Clinton said these are complex and dangerous times and noted Friday's attack on the U.S. embassy in Ankara, Turkey.
"We saw again just today at our embassy in Ankara, where we were attacked and lost one of our foreign service nationals and others injured, but I spoke with the ambassador and the team there, I spoke with my Turkish counterpart and I told them how much we valued their commitment and their sacrifice.''
Clinton's replacement, Senator John Kerry, was sworn in at a private ceremony Friday, becoming the Obama Administration's second secretary of state.
At his confirmation hearing last week Kerry told his colleagues he believes Clinton has set a high mark for "tireless efforts."
Although Clinton has not confirmed her intention to run again for president, there is widespread speculation that she will be a candidate in 2016, just as she was in 2008, when she eventually lost the Democratic nomination to Barack Obama.
Clinton's departure from the State Department caps decades of public service including filling the roles of First Lady, senator, and secretary of state.
Clinton said Friday that she was honored to lead the State Department and said the work had been exciting and challenging.
"But I am proud of the work we have done to elevate diplomacy and development, to serve the nation we all love, to understand the challenges, the threats and the opportunities that the United States faces, and to work with all our heart and all our might to make sure that America is secure, that our interests are promoted and our values are respected.''
Kerry will be the 68th U.S. secretary of state since the nation's first president, George Washington, named Thomas Jefferson to the post in 1789. Jefferson took office as president eight years later.
Kerry officially starts work on Monday.