LEGIAN ~ US allies gave a warm welcome to Hillary Clinton’s return to the world stage as secretary of state while her husband, former president Bill Clinton, said it was a “very wise decision by the president-elect and I think she made the right decision.”
Britain, Japan and Israel all said they relished the opportunity of further strengthening relations with Washington under Clinton, although her nomination appeared to inspire little confidence of an upturn in ties in Russia.
Speaking at a news conference beside the current Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said of Clinton: “She’s someone who believes that human effort can engineer change.
“I think that’s a profoundly important quality that she shares with Secretary Rice,” he added.
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier welcomed her nomination as secretary of state as “a good choice.”
“She knows Europe well and has a great amount of international experience. I am sure we will work together closely in a spirit of trust and cooperation,” he said in a statement.
French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, whose country currently holds the revolving EU presidency, said Europe was ready to work closely with Clinton as part of a renewed trans-Atlantic partnership.
Kouchner also called for collaboration “in defense of human freedom and dignity, to defend peace and security and combat intolerance.”
The secretary for international relations in Spain’s ruling Socialist government, Elena Valenciano, said Clinton had the “proven experience” needed to deal with difficult times ahead.
After her nomination was announced this week, Clinton told incoming US president Barack Obama that she would give “this assignment, your administration and my country, my all.”
In Hong Kong, Philippines President Gloria Arroyo on Tuesday congratulated the couple before she addressed the opening session of a two-day conference hosted by Bill Clinton in Hong Kong.
“I have always been very proud of her and I look forward to our working together so that our very strong relations… will become even stronger,” said Arroyo.
Bill Clinton simply nodded his head following the words about his wife’s nomination and in his address to the conference spoke only about climate change and the global financial crisis.
Arroyo and the former US president were classmates at Georgetown University in Washington.
China’s Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi also said he was looking forward to working with Clinton.
“Foreign minister Yang… looks forward to working together with them to promote the further development of constructive, cooperative relations between China and the United States,” said a government statement.
In Tokyo, Foreign Minister Hirofumi Nakasone said he looked forward to working with Clinton, noting she had stressed the importance of the alliance.
“So I hold high hopes that we can build close ties, or even closer ties, than the ones that our two nations currently enjoy,” he told reporters.
The main dissenting voice came from Russia.
“These nominations inspire no optimism whatsoever,” the Russian lower house’s foreign affairs commission chief, Konstantin Kossachev, told Interfax news agency.
Kossachev was also referring to Obama’s decision to retain Robert Gates as defense secretary.
“These (appointments) imply continuity, and not a reform of how the White House approaches foreign policy,” Kossachev added.
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said the New York senator would ensure close US-Israeli ties.
“Senator Clinton is a friend of the state of Israel and the Jewish people,” Olmert said in a statement.
Clinton has taken a tough stance in favor of defending Israel, particularly against any possible nuclear threat from Iran.