Friday, December 5, 2008

Hillary shocked at Obama's choice: Bill Clinton

Senator Hillary Clinton was "shocked" by the possibility that president-elect Barack Obama would consider her as his Secretary of State, according to an interview with her husband, former president Bill Clinton, on CNN.

"I think she was shocked" when she read speculation about the nomination, he said of the leaked indications she would be named.

On Monday, Obama nominated his erstwhile bitter rival, Hillary Clinton, as the nation's top diplomat, bringing her high-profile name into his cabinet and helping to heal wounds among Democrats over the long contest for the Democratic Party's nomination.

Sketching out his vision of his role if Hillary is confirmed by the Senate for the job, Clinton told CNN in an interview in Hong Kong that he expects to be a "helpful sounding board" for his wife, "but I don't think I'll do any more than that".

"I really care about all these profound challenges that our country and the world are facing," Clinton said. "But the decisions will have to be ultimately president-elect Obama's decisions."

Clinton said he would remain in the background unless Obama "asks me to do something specifically, which I'm neither looking forward to nor closed to".

The former president said he and the former first lady always discussed issues during his years as Arkansas governor and his 1993- 2001 presidency.

One of the pre-conditions of her nomination set by the Obama team was that globe-trotting Bill Clinton, who gave CNN the interview in Hong Kong, disclose the estimated 200,000 donors to his foundation that reportedly include foreign interests.

Clinton said he had agreed to the conditions to avoid any appearance of conflict of interest and to defuse worries that donors were trying to influence US international policy - even though the move would be "over and above what the law requires."

"If she is going to be secretary of state and I operate globally and I have people who contribute to these efforts globally, I think that it's important to make it totally transparent," the former president said.

The disclosure of contributors was one of nine conditions Clinton signed off on during discussions with Obama's team, the New York Times reported last week.

Other concessions included separate incorporation of his Clinton Global Initiative from his foundation, so he has less direct involvement. The initiative focuses on fighting disease, poverty and climate change, and will no longer meet outside the US or accept foreign government donations, the Times wrote, quoting unnamed people close to Obama.

The former president also is to give advance copies of his speeches and business activities for State Department and possibly White House review.

Bill Clinton routinely gets paid high six-figure fees for speaking to foreign organisations. He travels the world for both business and charitable events - activities which could raise questions while his wife is leading US foreign policy.

Some of his donors have included the Saudi royal family, the king of Morocco, a foundation linked to the United Arab Emirates, the governments of Kuwait and Qatar and a tycoon who is the son-in-law of Ukraine's former authoritarian president, the Times reported.

DPA

http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2008/12/04/1228257188941.html

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