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Clinton hits 100th-country mark

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AP

US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton walks with a bouquet of flowers she received after arriving in Riga, Latvia. Photo: AP/Haraz N. Ghanbari

Hillary Rodham Clinton made and marked history on Thursday, setting a new frequent-flier record for American secretaries of state by touching down in her 100th country and commemorating the strong stand one of her predecessors took against Soviet expansion.

The globe-trotting Clinton hit the century mark when she stepped off her Air Force Boeing 757 plane in the Latvian capital of Riga. No previous secretary of state has visited more than 96 countries while in office, according to the State Department. The previous record-holder was Madeleine Albright, who served as secretary of state during President Bill Clinton's second term in office.

In her three and a half years as secretary, Clinton has so far logged 70 trips abroad to countries from Afghanistan to Zambia, the department said. She has spent 337 days on the road, including more than 1 750 hours, or more than 73 days, on her Air Force 757, it said. Counting her trips abroad as first lady, Clinton has now represented the US in 122 countries, according to her staff.

Clinton, who first visited Riga with her husband in 1994, is in Latvia on the second stop of a four-nation European swing that took her to Finland on Wednesday and will see her visit St. Petersburg, Russia, and Geneva, Switzerland, where she will attend an international conference aimed at ending the crisis in Syria.

In Riga, Clinton was meeting Latvian officials and dedicating a street in front of the US Embassy in honour of former Under Secretary of State Sumner Welles. In 1940, he issued what became known as the Welles Declaration, which set out Washington's refusal to recognise the Soviet Union's takeover of the Baltic States – Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania.

“We were proud never to have wavered in supporting the independence of Latvia and the Latvian people, and we are proud now to be a partner of a free Latvia,” Clinton said before meeting the country's prime minister. – Sapa-AP


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