Flowers, an Estonian pillow and an inflatable walrus: Nato waves goodbye to Hillary Clinton

She remained silent on whether stepping down from her post was in preparation for a bid for the White House in 2016

She was presented with a giant pillow, an inflatable walrus, pink and white roses which matched her outfit and condiments which US quarantine regulations would prevent her from taking back home. There were also compliments and best wishes galore for Hillary Clinton on her last appearance at a Nato conference.

The soon to be former US Secretary of State spoke of just how much she had enjoyed working with others in the alliance and listed all that they had done together, from military action in Afghanistan and Libya to opening up to former Warsaw Pact states and embarking on a new relationship with Russia. She dwelt on the latest significant act: the deployment of Patriot missiles to the Syrian border while, like every other of her colleagues, insisting it was not the start of “mission creep” into a bloody civil war.

State Department officials were being diplomatically coy about the origins and the likely destinations of the various gifts. The pillow bore the motifs of Estonia and the roses are believed to have come from Nato. The condiments, described as flavouring, and the inflatable had been presented by dignitaries. While diplomats said they did not know who the donors were, anything received was “much appreciated”.

The one thing Ms Clinton maintained firm silence on was whether stepping down from her post was in preparation for a bid for the White House in 2016, ensuring she remains untouched by travails that may  befall the Obama administration in its second term.

Ms Clinton has another international meeting in Dublin and a Middle-East tour before finishing her watch. The topics raised at her final press conference illustrated the thorny problems her successor will face. There is the Arab winter, with constitutional crisis in Egypt and the Syrian conflict in the forefront. There is also Afghanistan where the West will end its combat role in 2014.

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