Wed, Jan 14, 2009 - Page 7 News List

Clinton to begin confirmation

LET BYGONES BE BYGONES Although the Democratic senator was a fierce rival for the party candidacy, she was likely to appear in perfect harmony with the US president-elect

AFP , WASHINGTON

Senator Hillary Clinton was to put diplomacy at the forefront of US foreign policy and stress “smart power” in her bid for confirmation as US president-elect Barack Obama’s secretary of state yesterday, aides said.

When she goes before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, an aide said, the New York senator was to also promise a renewal of American leadership, which is perceived to have declined with US troops bogged down in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“She will reiterate that she and the president-elect believe that America must be smarter to be stronger,” an official on the Obama transition team said on the condition of anonymity.

“Senator Clinton believes in ‘smart power’ — using all the tools of foreign policy that are at our disposal. She also believes, as does the president-elect, that diplomacy must be at the forefront of US foreign policy, and that it must be balanced with military power in ways that work for the 21st century,” the official said without elaborating.

Clinton was to also make a forceful case for increasing State Department resources to help US diplomats pursue Obama’s pledge for aggressive diplomacy, an official said.

Clinton was to likely face questions about the Obama administration stance on the Israeli war on Hamas in the Gaza Strip, and the promised closure of the Guantanamo Bay camp in Cuba.

She was to also come ready to answer queries on Obama’s vow to pull US troops out of Iraq, the Iranian nuclear showdown and future US relations with Russia.

Transition officials refused to comment on reports on Monday that Obama would issue an executive order in the first week of his presidency next week clearing the way for the closure of Guantanamo Bay.

Clinton may face some embarrassing questions about her husband and former US president Bill Clinton.

The Clinton Foundation — which fights disease, poverty and climate change — received between US$75 million and US$165 million from foreign governments and organizations financed by Middle East and other governments.

Some lawmakers may consider these donations as a potential conflict of interest for her duties as chief US diplomat.

The former US first lady also could be questioned about her relationship with Obama, her former fierce rival for the Democratic presidential nomination,

During the primaries, Clinton, 61, accused Obama 47, of being too inexperienced to become president, saying he would not be ready to handle a telephone call about some foreign crisis at three in the morning. However, Carol Lancester, a former Clinton advisor now at Georgetown University, said Clinton has long tried to “mitigate” personal questions by meeting separately with all the committee members in the last few weeks.

“She is an extremely disciplined person. I am sure she has prepared carefully,” Lancaster said.

Yesterday she was likely to appear in perfect harmony with her former adversary, especially on topics that divided them in the past, such as relations with Iran, she said.

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