U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton remains keen on stepping down from her post despite efforts by re-elected President Barack Obama to keep the high-profile cabinet official a member of his second-term team.
"(Ms Clinton) seems pretty set in her plans ... I don't think the secretary's plans have changed," Department of State spokeswoman Victoria Nuland was reported by Agence France Presse (AFP) as saying on Wednesday.
Ms Nuland, however, stressed that her boss was not planning to depart in haste and will likely stay on for a bit more time right after Mr Obama's inaugural on January 2013 to ensure that the U.S. State Department she's been managing for close to four year will have a smooth transition.
"She intends to see through a transition of a successor," the spokeswoman added.
Ms Clinton has been vocal that she plans to retire from politics after serving out a major role in the first Obama term, which she accepted following her defeat at the Democratic presidential primary that eventually propelled Mr Obama to the U.S. presidency.
She refused to detail any plans to come after her stint at the U.S. State Department, which extended her visibility in the eyes of the American public.
The secretary first barged into national consciousness as the feisty wife of then Democrat candidate for president, Bill Clinton, and then a strong-willed first lady to her husband who served two terms at the White House amidst all the controversies.
Analysts said it could prove difficult for Ms Clinton to become a private citizen again after decades of political involvements that actually started when Ms Clinton ran and served as Arkansas governor.
But according to Ms Nuland, America's top diplomat will surely "go back to private life and enjoy some rest, and think and write and all those things."
Ms Clinton had previously authored numerous books, including a bestselling autobiography, which could see a second edition with more leisure time waiting for her.
But she could also resurrect her presidential ambition that political observers said was briefly sidelined by the Obama presidency. Ms Clinton, however, had publicly denied that she'll mount a campaign come 2016.
With her departure from the State Department almost a certainty, names of possible replacements have been floated.
Two of the stronger contenders so far, according to media reports, are U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice and Democratic Senator John Kerry, who analysts said are both up to the task of promoting U.S. interests the way Ms Clinton did.
To contact the editor, e-mail: