Hillary Clinton Steps Down As Secretary Of State

Hillary Clinton has left office as US Secretary of State after four years in the post.

On formally stepping down amid sky high public approval ratings, the former First Lady thanked everyone she had served and worked with. She said she planned to enjoy her retirement and "catch up on sleep".

Addressing the crowd at her send-off, Mrs Clinton said that on becoming the leader of the state department four years ago she knew it would be a "unique, singular, exciting and challenging" job - and it had proved to be "all of these things and so much more".

As America's 67th Secretary of State, she said she was "proud" of her time in office, which had included "difficult" episodes such as the suicide bombing at a US embassy in Ankara earlier in the day.

She revealed that she had spoken to the US Embassy staff in Turkey affected by the attack.

Mrs Clinton said she was "leaving office confident of the direction we have set at the state department".

She added: "I am glad to have contributed to making the world safer and fairer."

Mrs Clinton, who visited a record-number of countries during her tenure, is being replaced as Secretary of State by Senator John Kerry.

In one of her last interviews before leaving office, Mrs Clinton took the chance to slap down critics of the Obama administration's handling of last September's attack on a US diplomatic mission in Libya.

She said that critics of the administration's handling of the attack did not live in an "evidence-based world", and their refusal to "accept the facts" is unfortunate and regrettable for the political system.

She added that the attack in Benghazi was the low point of her time as America's top diplomat.

But she suggested that the furore over the assault would not affect whether she runs for president in 2016.

There remains a big question-mark as to whether the popular US politician will decide to declare her candidacy in the next presidential elections following her ill-fated bid against President Barack Obama in 2008.