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United States

Susan Rice withdraws from US secretary of state bid

Scandal over an attack in Libya has burned any chance of Susan Rice, the US representative at the UN, becoming the new US secretary of state. With Rice's hope for promotion cooked, John Kerry is hot favorite for the job.

US ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice, withdrew herself from consideration as the country's next secretary of state, after facing fierce criticism from the Senate over comments she made following a fatal attack on the US consulate in Benghazi in September.

"If nominated, I am now convinced that the confirmation process would be lengthy, disruptive and costly, to you and to our most pressing national and international priorities," Rice wrote in a letter to President Barack Obama.

"That trade-off is simply not worth it to our country... therefore, I respectfully request that you no longer consider my candidacy at this time," Rice added.

Obama accepted Rice's withdrawal, but also took the opportunity to hit out at "unfair and misleading attacks" on her.

"Her decision demonstrates the strength of her character, and an admirable commitment to rise above the politics of the moment to put our national interests first," said Obama.

"The American people can be proud to have a public servant of her caliber and character representing our country," Obama also said, adding that Rice would remain in her current post as UN ambassador.

Benghazi scandal

Rice, who is a close ally of President Obama, has faced tough questions after making inaccurate comments about an attack on an American consulate in Libya on September 16 which resulted in the death of the US ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens. She called the assault a “spontaneous” eruption of violence after an anti-Islam film made in America went viral. In fact, the attack was coordinated by extremists with ties to al Qaeda.

Republicans have consequently accused the White House of misleading the American public to avoid having to admit to a terrorist attack in the run-up to the presidential election.

Rice's withdrawal has shifted the spotlight to Democratic Senator John Kerry. He is now the favorite to succeed Hillary Clinton, who has confirmed she will not stay in her position as the current secretary of state during Obama's second term, which officially starts in January.

sej/hc (Reuters, AFP)