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The hard work has just begun, says Obama
Lalit K Jha in Washington
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January 23, 2009 08:59 IST

Revoking some of the previous Bush regime's globally criticised policies related to interrogation at the infamous Guantanamo Bay prison and Central Investigative Agency detention centres, US President Barack Obama [Images] has claimed America is now ready to lead again.

"Let there be no doubt about America's commitment to lead. We can no longer afford drift, and we can no longer afford delay, nor can we cede ground to those who seek destruction. A new era of American leadership is at hand, and the hard work has just begun," Obama said in his maiden address to the State Department officials on Thursday afternoon.

Given the current situation across the globe, Obama acknowledged difficult days lie ahead. "As we ask more of ourselves, we will seek new partnerships and ask more of our friends and more of people around the globe, because security in the 21st century is shared," he said.

Earlier, at the same function, his deputy and Vice President Joe Biden said, "We've come here today to the State Department to send a very clear message, a clear message at home as well as abroad that we are going to reinvigorate America's commitment to diplomacy."

This effort will be led by Secretary Clinton, Biden said, adding she has the knowledge, the skill, the experience, as well as that sort of intangible commodity of having personal relationships with many of these world leaders, which makes her uniquely qualified to put diplomacy back in the forefront of America's foreign policy.

"For too long, we've put the bulk of the burden, in my view, on our military. That's a view not only shared by me, but by your Secretary of Defence, as well. And our military is absolutely, to state the obvious, absolutely necessary, but not sufficient, not sufficient to secure the interest of this great nation," Biden said.

Addressing the State Department officials for the second time in a day, this time in the presence of the President and the Vice President, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton [Images] said, "Today, we start the hard work to restore our standing and enable our country to meet the vexing new challenges of the 21st century, but also to seize the opportunities that await us."

The President is committed to making diplomacy and development the partners in our foreign policy, along with defence, Clinton said.

Referring to the appointment of a Special Middle East Envoy and a Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Clinton said, "Nowhere is there a need for a vigorous diplomatic approach more apparent than in the two regions that epitomise the nuance and complexity of our interconnected world."

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