Hillary Clinton defends State Department record amid criticism

Reuters News
Posted: May 14, 2014 2:23 PM

By Gabriel Debenedetti

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Hillary Clinton, a likely U.S. presidential candidate in 2016, on Wednesday defended her time as secretary of state as Republican criticism of her time in government mounts.

Clinton told a forum of the American Jewish Committee advocacy group that she played a key role in securing U.N. sanctions on Iran in 2010 to try to halt its nuclear ambitions.

"I worked for months to round up the votes," she said in the first of three speeches she is giving in Washington this week.

Scrutiny of her time as America's top diplomat has grown after Republicans in the House of Representatives announced a select committee to look into the 2012 assault in Benghazi, Libya that killed the U.S. ambassador and three others.

And Clinton has been attacked because the State Department on her watch did not designate Nigeria's Boko Haram group - which recently kidnapped hundreds of girls - as terrorists.

Clinton, who is generally considered the Democratic frontrunner if she again chooses to pursue the presidency, did not mention Benghazi or Boko Haram in her speech.

She focused on the provisional deal reached with Iran last year to limit its nuclear program. "No deal is better than a bad deal," she said, detailing her role in imposing sanctions on Iran and looking ahead to upcoming negotiations.

Clinton also stressed to the American Jewish Committee audience her commitment to Israel, just weeks after the breakdown of peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians.

She is scheduled to speak at the World Bank later on Wednesday. On Friday, she will headline a conference hosted by the New America Foundation, a liberal think tank led by one of her former State Department colleagues.

(Reporting by Gabriel Debenedetti; Editing by Bernard Orr)