Clinton says she will step off fast track 'for a little while'

WASHINGTON Wed Jan 9, 2013 11:55pm IST

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton delivers a speech ''Frontlines and Frontiers: Making Human Rights a Human Reality'' at Dublin City University in Ireland December 6, 2012. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/Files

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton delivers a speech ''Frontlines and Frontiers: Making Human Rights a Human Reality'' at Dublin City University in Ireland December 6, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque/Files

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Wednesday she would step off the fast track "for a little while" when she leaves the State Department but she gave no hint as to whether she may ultimately run again for U.S. president.

Speaking to reporters for the first time since a stomach virus, concussion and blood clot kept her out of public view for nearly a month, Clinton said she wanted to ensure a seamless transition to Senator John Kerry, who has been nominated by President Barack Obama to succeed her.

"Obviously, it's somewhat bittersweet," Clinton, who came back to the office on Monday, said of her final few weeks as secretary of state, saying she had "the most extraordinary experience" as secretary of state.

"I am very much looking forward to doing everything we can these last few weeks to resolve and finish up wherever possible and then to ... have a very smooth, seamless transition to Senator Kerry to continue the work," she said.

Asked if retirement came next, Clinton replied: "I don't know if (that is the) word I would use, but certainly stepping off the very fast track for a little while."

Clinton fell ill with a stomach virus in early December. She then became dehydrated and fainted, leading to a concussion. During a check-up after that, she was diagnosed with a blood clot, hospitalized and treated with blood thinners.

The 65-year-old former first lady and U.S. senator ran for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008 but was defeated by Obama. Clinton is often mentioned as a potential White House candidate again in 2016, although last month she sought to play down that possibility.

(Reporting by Arshad Mohammed; Editing by Will Dunham)

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