16 Nov 2008

Clinton could take top diplomatic role

6:09 am on 16 November 2008

Hillary Clinton has declined to say whether she was in the running to be US secretary of state, a day after a reported meeting with President-elect Barack Obama.

Mrs Clinton, wife of former president Bill Clinton and the senator for New York, this week emerged as a candidate for the chief US diplomatic post or another job in the Obama administration.

It follows her loss earlier this year in a sometimes bitter contest with Mr Obama for the Democratic presidential nomination.

During a speech in New York, Mrs Clinton did not confirm or deny news reports that she had a secret meeting with Mr Obama in Chicago on Thursday.

"I'm not going to speculate or address anything about the president-elect's incoming administration. And I am going to respect his process and any inquiries should be directed to his transition team," Mrs Clinton said.

The Obama transition office also refused to comment.

Not only did Mrs Clinton lose to Mr Obama in the presidential nomination stakes, she was also passed over when he chose Senator Joe Biden as his vice presidential running mate - a decision that angered Mrs Clinton's ardent supporters.

This widened a rift in the party that Mr Obama and Mrs Clinton later worked hard to heal.

Mr Obama is also said to be considering New Mexico governor Bill Richardson for the role of secretary of state.

As a former permanent representative to the UN under President Bill Clinton, Mr Richardson has extensive foreign policy experience.

Democratic Party officials said the two men had met in Chicago on Friday to discuss the new administration.

Other possible contenders include Massachusetts Senator John Kerry, who lost the 2004 presidential election to George Bush, and Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel, a Republican who backed Mr Obama over Republican John McCain.

Mr Obama will be inaugurated as the 44th US president on 20 January.