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January 2, 2013

Clinton talking to staff as she recovers from clot

WASHINGTON — Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has been speaking with staff and reviewing paperwork from the New York hospital where she is recovering from a blood clot in her head, the State Department said Wednesday.

Doctors continue to monitor Clinton's progress and her response to blood thinners intended to dissolve the clot. Aides said there was no update Wednesday on her condition, but emphasized that the secretary remained engaged with staff in Washington who are handling U.S. foreign policy in her absence.

"She's been quite active on the phone with all of us," said State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland.

Clinton was admitted Sunday to New York-Presbyterian Hospital for treatment of a clot stemming from a concussion she suffered earlier in December. While at home battling a stomach virus, Clinton had fainted, fallen and struck her head, a spokesman said. Clinton, 65, hasn't been seen publicly since Dec. 7.

Doctors found the clot, located in a vein that runs through the space between the brain and the skull behind the right ear, during a follow-up exam and began administering blood thinners. Her physicians said Monday that there was no neurological damage and that they expect she will make a full recovery.

Sidelined by her illness for most of December, Clinton was forced to cancel scheduled testimony before Congress about a scathing report into the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, and was absent on Dec. 21 when President Barack Obama nominated Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., to succeed Clinton when she steps down at the start of Obama's second term, as had long been planned.

But Clinton had expected to return to work this week and had already started to resume regular phone contact with her foreign counterparts. On Saturday, the day before the clot was discovered, Clinton had a half-hour conversation with Lakhdar Brahimi, the U.N. envoy to Syria, in which the two discussed the state of affairs in that civil-war-torn country, Nuland said.

Also on Saturday, Clinton spoke by telephone with Qatari Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Hamad bin Jassim Al Thani, discussing recent developments in Syria, Afghanistan and the Palestinian territories.

Clinton's doctors said they planned to release Clinton from the hospital after the proper dose for the blood thinners had been established, and doctors not involved with her care say it's likely she will have no long-term consequences from the clot. But it remains to be seen whether she will be able to return to work before she resigns as secretary of state.

The illness has also raised questions about Clinton's political future and how her health might influence her decision about whether to run for president in 2016, as prominent Democrats have been urging her to consider. Clinton also suffered from a blood clot in 1998, midway through her husband's second term as president, although that clot was located in her knee.

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