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Hillary Clinton says Bill committed to Ireland regardless of ambassador job

FORMER US President Bill Clinton will remain committed to Ireland, whether or not he is US Ambassador to Ireland, according to his wife.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton refused to be drawn on recent speculation that her husband would take up the role in Dublin next year.

"I cannot comment on what President Obama might do in the second term, it's his decision," Mrs Clinton said.

"But I would think that my husband will be here many times in the future and doing the work that he has been doing without having the title of ambassador."

The former US presidential candidate was one of some of the biggest political names in the world attending an Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) conference today.

She met Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and United Nations envoy for Syria Lakhdar Brahimi to discuss the crisis in Syria and also held talks with Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore.

Mrs Clinton is to step down from her role as Secretary of State in January as President Barack Obama's second term moves on.

She said that, while she remains focused on work she has yet to do, she was looking forward to life away from politics.

"I'm looking forward to returning to living the life, to enjoy a lot of simple pleasures and give me time for family and friends," she said.

Elsewhere, Mrs Clinton said she was delighted to see that Ireland was on the road to recovery from the economic crisis.

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She said she understood the sacrifice and suffering the public have endured.

"The view from the US is the resilience, the hard work and the determination of the Irish people, getting up every day and getting the job done," she added.

Meanwhile, Mr Kenny said the pair had discussed Ireland's progress in its bailout programme with its European debt masters the Troika, as well as the country's upcoming presidency of the European Union.

He added that yesterday's budget of 3.5 billion euro (£2.8 billion) in cuts and tax hikes would be implemented and that there would be no U-turns on any of the tough decisions taken.

Mrs Clinton travels to Belfast tomorrow after a series of events in Dublin where she attended during the OSCE conference.

More than 50 foreign ministers, including Britain's William Hague, and 1,500 delegates from more than 70 countries and international organisations are taking part in the OSCE Ministerial Council, which is the largest international meeting organised in Ireland.

Mrs Clinton also raised concerns about the need to continue the work the OSCE was set up for - to promote peace and freedom in Europe.

Her trip to Ireland could be one of her last foreign engagements as Secretary of State - which is the American equivalent of Foreign Secretary - as her term runs out next month.

Engagements included delivering a speech on global human rights at a Dublin university and meeting President Michael D Higgins.

Earlier, Mrs Clinton told more than 1,000 students at Dublin City University about the strong bond between Ireland and the US.

"People around the world often speak of and believe in the American dream, but I think it is fair to say no people have done more to build that dream and make it real than the Irish.

"The United States, my country, would not be the country it is today were it not for this nation and its people."

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