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Friday is Clinton's Last Day as US Secretary of State

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton adjusts her glasses during a Global Townterview at the Newseum in Washington, January 29, 2013.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton steps down as America's top diplomat Friday. Massachusetts Senator John Kerry will be sworn-in to replace her.

In her four years as secretary of state, Hillary Clinton says she has focused on defending universal values and protecting U.S. security.

She told State Department employees this week that diplomacy and development have been vital to facing democratic revolutions in North Africa, earthquakes in Haiti and Japan, the end of war in Iraq, the transition in Afghanistan, the rebuilding of the global economy, and breakthroughs in Burma and Somalia.

"Four years ago when I sat across the table up in the Senate from my then-Senate colleagues at my own confirmation hearing, I said I was thrilled to be considered for the role of secretary, but also sad about leaving a place that I had loved also and all the people that I cared for so much there and in New York, the state that I was so privileged to represent. Now I find myself feeling the exact same way. I am looking forward to the next chapter. It is like one of those books you buy that has blank pages," Clinton said.

Clinton says she knows she is leaving the State Department in excellent hands.

"John Kerry was a very accomplished senator, and he will be the same as secretary of state. He brings judgment, experience, vision, and a deep understanding, because of his own family with his father having been in the Foreign Service, to what diplomacy requires," Clinton said.

In a private ceremony Friday, Senator Kerry will be sworn-in as secretary of state by Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan. They know each other from the White House, where she was a domestic policy advisor to President Bill Clinton, and from Massachusetts where she was dean of the Harvard Law School.

In his confirmation hearing, Kerry said Hillary Clinton has set a high mark for "tireless efforts."

"I will do everything in my power, summon every energy and all of my focus to build on her record and on the president's vision," Kerry said.

Kerry will be the 68th U.S. Secretary of State since George Washington named Thomas Jefferson to the post in 1789. Kerry starts work Monday.

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