RIGA, Latvia — The small Baltic nation of Latvia took on outsized importance for U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Thursday, becoming the 100th country she has visited since becoming the top U.S. diplomat — more than any of her predecessors.
Clinton arrived in Latvia's capital, Riga, after a visit to Finland and was to meet Latvian leaders and university students before heading on to St. Petersburg later in the day.
She remarked to Latvian President Andris Berzins that she had saved a "consequential number" for Latvia and later told Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis that she recalled visiting the country almost 20 years ago with her husband, then-U.S. President Bill Clinton.
"I well remember my visit here with my husband in 1994, when we were able to see the beginning of Latvian sovereign independence. … For all that you have achieved under difficult circumstances, I'd like to commend you," Clinton said.
With 100 countries under her belt, Clinton has visited more than any former U.S. secretary of state, beating Madeleine Albright — who served under Bill Clinton — by four.
U.S. State Department officials said that since taking office in early 2009, Clinton has made 70 overseas trips in all, completed 337 days on the road and spent the equivalent of more than 73 days on her official plane.
Clinton has said she intends to step down following the end of U.S. President Barack Obama's term in January next year. She has not said what she plans to do next, although she has joked that relaxing will be high on her agenda.