Clinton Arrives at State, Eager to Show No Tension with Obama

By Nitya

Jan 22, 2009 11:58am

ABC News’ Martha Raddatz and Kirit Radia Report: Newly-minted Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was warmly greeted by employees at a ceremony at the State Department this morning.

Employees packed the building’s lobby and overflowed into adjacent corridors, all craning their necks for a glimpse of America’s new top diplomat as she entered for the first time. Those late to arrive were out of luck as it was soon impossible to move. The building’s security team attempted to clear people out of certain spaces for fear of a security risk, but in many cases there was simply nowhere for them to go.

The event was similar to now former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s warm departure last Friday, though Clinton’s reception was more enthusiastic (lots of cheering and applause) and much more crowded.

Clinton said the new Obama administration will place diplomacy and development at the forefront of its foreign policy.

"I believe with all my heart this is a new era for America," Clinton said. "We will make clear as we go forward that diplomacy and development are essential tools in achieving the long-term objectives of the United States."

In both a sign of that commitment to diplomacy and to dispel the notion of any lingering tension between Clinton and President Obama from last year’s heated primary, Obama and Vice President Joe Biden will come to the State Department this afternoon to meet with Clinton and deliver remarks to employees.

Clinton said they want to send an "unequivocal message" that "this is a team, and you are the members of that team.  There isn’t 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 undermine our ability to get things done for America."

"The president will be here on his second day in office to let all of you know and all of who are serving on our behalf around the world how seriously committed he is to working with us," she added.

Secy Clinton will visit USAID tomorrow to thank and greet employees there. "They will be our partners," she said today.

Clinton also gave a nod to what has been known (both endearingly and perhaps not so) as "the building" — diplomats who have been disgruntled in recent years for feeling they had been marginalized.

"I want you to think outside the proverbial box.  I want you to give me the best advice you can.  I want you to understand there is nothing that I welcome more than a good debate and the kind of dialogue that will make us better," she said.

Those remarks brought big cheers from the assembled crowd.

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