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Susan Rice withdraws from race of US Secretary of State

December 14, 2012 04:15 IST

United States Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice has withdrawn herself from the race of Secretary of State, considering the stiff opposition she might have faced from the opposition Republican Senators during the confirmation process.

The US President Barack Obama has accepted her decision.

"I spoke to Ambassador Susan Rice, and accepted her decision to remove her name from consideration for Secretary of State," Obama said in a statement.

Rice was said to be Obama's most favourite choice for the nations' top diplomatic post. Hillary Clinton, the current Secretary of State, has announced that she would leave the position at the end of Obama's first term next month.

"I am highly honoured to be considered by you for appointment as Secretary of State. I am fully confident that I could serve our country ably and effectively in that role.

However, if nominated, I am now convinced that the confirmation process would be lengthy, disruptive and costly -- to you and to our most pressing national and international priorities," Rice wrote in a letter to Obama.

"That trade-off is simply not worth it to our country," Rice, who currently has been given a Cabinet-level rank in her capacity as the US Ambassador to the UN, said in her letter dated December 13.

"It is far more important that we devote precious legislative hours and energy to enacting your core goals, including comprehensive immigration reform, balanced deficit reduction, job creation, and maintaining a robust national defence and effective US global leadership. Therefore, I respectfully that you no longer consider my candidacy at this time," Rice said.

Rice's letter to Obama comes in the wake of the top Republican Senators going public against her and stating that they would oppose her Senate confirmation process. Many felt that this could result in a lengthy and possibly ugly confirmation process.

Republican Senators have been speaking her on the statement she gave to television networks that that the attack on the US Consulate in Benghazi on September 11, resulting in the death of the US Ambassador to Libya, and two other US nationals was a result of an "instant mob violence" and not a terrorist attack.

The United States has since determined that this was a terrorist attack. Obama has defended Rice in public and expressed his outrage at the Republican Senators attacking his top diplomat.

"I am grateful, as always, for your unwavering confidence in me and, especially, for your extraordinary personal support during these past several weeks," Rice said in the letter acknowledging Obama coming to her defence.

On her letter, Rice said that the office of the Secretary of State should not be politicised.

"The position of Secretary of State should never be politicised. As someone who grew up in an era of comparative bipartisanship and as a sitting US national security official who has served in two US Administration, I am saddened that we have reached this point, even before you have decided whom to nominate. We cannot afford such an irresponsible distraction from the most pressing issues facing the American people," Rice said.

Praising Rice, Obama said for two decades, she has proven to be an extraordinarily capable, patriotic, and passionate public servant.

"As my Ambassador to the United Nations, she plays an indispensable role in advancing America's interests. Already, she has secured international support for sanctions against

Iran and North Korea, worked to protect the people of Libya, helped achieve an independent South Sudan, stood up for Israel's security and legitimacy, and served as an advocate for UN reform and the human rights of all people," he said.

The US president hoped that Rice will continue to serve as the country's Ambassador to the United Nations and a key member of the cabinet and national security team, carrying her work forward on all of these and other issues.

"I have every confidence that Susan has limitless capability to serve our country now and in the years to come, and know that I will continue to rely on her as an advisor and friend.

"While I deeply regret the unfair and misleading attacks on Susan Rice in recent weeks, her decision demonstrates the strength of her character, and an admirable commitment to rise above the politics of the moment to put our national interests first," Obama said.

In her letter Rice said, Obama's vision and leadership has enabled the United States to restore its global standing, strengthen its national security, repair its relationship with the United Nations, and advance US interests and values.

"I am proud of many successes at the United Nations, including the protection of civilians from Libya to Cot D'Ivoire, strengthening the nuclear non-proliferation regime and increasing international  pressure on Iran and North Korea through the toughest sanctions ever," she said.

The achievements also included the unwavering support for Israel, the contribution to the birth of the world's newest state South Sudan, accelerating UN reforms, and the bold defence of the equal rights of all human beings regardless of their race, economic status or whom they love, Rice added.

Lalit K Jha in Washington
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