Rice withdraws US secretary of state bid

2012-12-14 08:08
Susan Rice. (File, AFP)

Susan Rice. (File, AFP)

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Washington - Susan Rice on Thursday withdrew her name from consideration to be the next secretary of state, after becoming a lightning rod for the White House's handling of the raid on the US consulate in Benghazi.

Rice, currently the US envoy to the United Nations, is close to President Barack Obama and emerged as the top target of Republican attacks on the administration's handling of the attack on 11 September.

"If nominated, I am now convinced that the confirmation process would be lengthy, disruptive and costly, to you and to our most pressing national and international priorities," Rice said in a letter to Obama.

"That trade-off is simply not worth it to our country... therefore, I respectfully request that you no longer consider my candidacy at this time," Rice wrote, in the letter seen by AFP.

Obama accepted Rice's decision, first reported by NBC, in a telephone call with the UN envoy on Thursday and issued a statement condemning the "unfair and misleading attacks" on her.

"Her decision demonstrates the strength of her character, and an admirable commitment to rise above the politics of the moment to put our national interests first," Obama said.

Extremists blamed

"The American people can be proud to have a public servant of her calibre and character representing our country," Obama added, saying that Rice would remain as UN ambassador with a place in his cabinet.

Republicans pounced on Rice after she said on 16 September that the Benghazi attack was a "spontaneous" reaction to an anti-Muslim video, using CIA talking points she now admits were wrong.

Extremists linked to al-Qaeda are now blamed for the attack and Republicans charge the White House misled the US public as it did not want to own up to a terror attack weeks before the presidential election.

Rice's move throws the race to succeed Hillary Clinton, who has said she will not serve in Obama's second term, wide open.

Democratic Senator John Kerry will now be seen as the hot favourite for the post, though officials say no announcements on Obama's second term national security team are imminent.

Read more on:    al-qaeda  |  barack obama  |  susan rice  |  us  |  benghazi attack
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