American Secretary of State Hillary Clinton answers questions from the audience at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington on Thursday.

Washington - American Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Thursday defended her legacy as the nation's top diplomat, pointing to a renewal the United States' world standing over the past four years, as she prepares to step down from her position.

“America is stronger at home and more respected in the world,” she told the Council on Foreign Relations in a farewell speech at the think tank. “Our global leadership is on stronger footing than many predicted.”

Clinton is to step down as secretary of state on Friday and Senator John Kerry is to be sworn into the post.

She noted the 112 nations she has visited as secretary of state and 1.6 million kilometres she has logged as evidence of the need to engage a more complicated world, where activists using Twitter in Egypt can enact change around the globe.

A new diplomatic architecture for the 21st century must engage on more levels, in what she characterised as “more Frank Gehry than formal Greek”.

The US cannot focus on just a handful of world powers, she said, pointing to visits to locales as far-flung as Togo and the State Department's Twitter feeds in 11 languages.

She stressed that the US remains the one “indispensable nation” despite the changing world and was uniquely positioned for the diverse challenges of the coming decades.

“I'm confident that my successor and his successors and all who serve in the position that I've been so privileged to hold will continue to lead in this century, just as we did in the last: smartly, tirelessly, courageously to make the world more peaceful, more safe, more prosperous, more free,” she said. - Sapa-dpa