Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has welcomed Australia's new foreign minister to Washington with kind words: Retirees have a lot to contribute.

Veteran politician Bob Carr came out retirement last month to replace Kevin Rudd, who resigned after a failed challenge for the leadership of Australia's ruling party.

Asked about the change, Clinton said she would pick up where she left off with Rudd to strengthen enduring U.S.-Australia relations.

She told a joint news conference, to laughter: "I'm partial to political people and those who are retired certainly have a lot still to do in their lives." Clinton recounted how Carr, former state premier of New South Wales, had welcomed her to Sydney as first lady in 1996, and her daughter Chelsea to the 2000 Olympics.