WASHINGTON, Jan. 23 -- Madeleine Albright took the oath of office as secretary of state and promised to help lead the United States in playing a forceful role in world affairs. Albright declared Thursday, 'If we are complacent or timid or unwilling to look beyond our borders, our citizens will not prosper, and the framework of American leadership and the foundation of American security we have built could crumble with 21st century speed.'
The Senate unanimously approved the nomination of Albright, making her the highest-ranking woman in any administration. President Clinton said the confirmation demonstrates a commitment to bipartisan cooperation and 'reflects the confidence that all of us have in this remarkable American.' Albright is the Czechoslovak-born daughter of a Czech envoy who chose asylum in the United States when the communists took over Prague in 1948. Clinton said, 'Madeleine Albright has the strength and wisdom to help ensure that America remains the indispensable nation.' Albright had served asClinton's U.N. ambassador since 1993. She served on the National Security Council from 1978 to 1981, as an assistant to Sen. Edmund Muskie, and as an adviser to the Mondale, Dukakis and Clinton presidential campaigns. She thanked her mother and father, 'who taught me to love freedom;' Czech President Vaclav Havel, 'who helped me to understand the responsibilities of freedom;' Muskie, 'who gave me the confidence to know that no barrier or ceiling should stop me from serving freedom in my own life;' and Thomas Jefferson, 'who as our first secretary of state set the right diplomatic course for this great nation.' ---
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