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Clinton Out, Kerry in at US State Department

Hillary Rodham Clinton waves as she leaves the State Department, Feb. 1, 2013

Hillary Rodham Clinton waves as she leaves the State Department, Feb. 1, 2013

John Kerry is the new U.S. secretary of state, replacing former first lady Hillary Clinton as America's top diplomat.

Secretary John Kerry was sworn in at a private ceremony Friday, taking an oath administered by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan. He replaces his former Senate colleague, Hillary Clinton, who stepped down Friday after four years and visiting 112 countries as President Barack Obama's first-term secretary of state.

Clinton received a rousing send-off from diplomatic staff at the State Department's C Street entrance.

"Just standing here looking out at all of you, the people I have been honored to serve and lead and work with over the last four years is an incredible experience," she said.

Clinton says she is proud of the work done to elevate diplomacy and development and to understand the challenges and threats facing the United States.

"I know that the world we are trying to help bring into being in the 21st century will have many difficult days. But I am more optimistic today than I was when I stood here four years ago because I have seen day after day the many contributions that our diplomats and development experts are making," she said.

When Kerry starts work Monday, Clinton says she expects State Department staff will have the same focus and dedication they have shown her over the last four years.

Kerry is the 68th U.S. secretary of state since George Washington named Thomas Jefferson to the post in 1789.

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