WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- Former New York Senator Hillary Clinton has officially taken the helm at the U.S. State Department, promising a new era in U.S. diplomacy but tough times ahead.
About 1,000 employees crammed the entryway to the department and cheered robustly when Clinton arrived for her first full day as secretary of state.
"I will do all that I can working with you to make it abundantly clear that robust diplomacy and effective development are the best long-term tools for securing America's future," Clinton said.
"I believe with all my heart that this is a new era for America," she said.
Later on January 22, President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden were due to address State Department employees on the challenges ahead, which include Iran and North Korea's nuclear programs as well as the Arab-Israeli conflict.
Waiting for Clinton in her office was a letter of welcome and advice from Condoleezza Rice, who held the job under President George W. Bush and who came under criticism from staff for not doing enough to increase funding for diplomats.
Clinton, who narrowly lost the contest with Obama to be the presidential nominee for the Democratic Party last year, told employees there were challenging times ahead.
"This is not going to be easy. I don't want anybody to leave this extraordinarily warm reception thinking, 'Oh good, this is going to be great.' This is going to be hard," she added.
Clinton won Senate approval on January 21 despite Republican concerns about the foreign fund-raising activities of her husband, former President Bill Clinton.