Hillary Clinton sips coffee 10,000 miles away during Bill's speech

DILI Thu Sep 6, 2012 2:51am EDT

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (R) drinks a cup of coffee as she tours the Timor Coffee Cooperative in Dili September 6, 2012. REUTERS/Jim Watson/Pool

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (R) drinks a cup of coffee as she tours the Timor Coffee Cooperative in Dili September 6, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Jim Watson/Pool

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DILI (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sipped coffee at a bean-processing plant nearly 10,000 miles away in East Timor around the time her husband delivered a speech to the Democratic convention, but she watched a recording and said it was "great".

Clinton woke up and smelt the coffee in Asia's newest nation after an overnight flight from Beijing as former President Bill Clinton delivered a rousing nomination speech for President Barack Obama in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Hillary Clinton and Obama were rivals for the Democratic nomination in 2008 and she has been talked about as a possible candidate for the presidency in 2016.

"It's a great honor for him (Bill Clinton) to be nominating the president and I'm delighted to be here in Timor Leste (East Timor) on behalf of the United States," she told a news conference. She later said she had spoken to her husband after his speech.

"This is the first convention that I have missed in many, many years. For decades, secretaries of state have not attended political conventions because of the non-partisan nature of our foreign policy. I think it's a good rule. It's one that I certainly accepted."

She later watched a recording of the speech at the U.S. embassy and told reporters it was "great", adding that she had also spoken to her husband.

Clinton held talks with Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao and President Taur Matan Ruak in the capital Dili, which is around 9,962 miles from Charlotte across the Pacific Ocean. Her visit was part of a trip to east Asia.

She also toured a USAID-funded coffee finishing plant, a symbol of the country's second-largest export which generates some $10 million per year.

Women workers in pink and purple uniforms sorted coffee beans rolling off simple conveyor belts. The plant's walls were lined with huge sacks of coffee, much of it destined for the U.S. coffee giant Starbucks, which is a major customer.

"It's delicious," Clinton said following the tour.

East Timor is one of Asia's poorest nations. It celebrated 10 years of independence from Indonesia earlier this year.

(Additional reporting by Tito Belo; Writing by Matthew Bigg; Editing by Nick Macfie)

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