The US ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice, has taken herself out of consideration for the post of secretary of state and President Barack Obama has accepted her decision, the White House said Thursday.
Rice, one of the favourites to substitute Hillary Clinton, has been criticized by Republicans for having given what turned out to be a faulty account of the attack on the US Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, that left Ambassador Chris Stevens and three others dead.
Had the president nominated Rice for the post, she would have faced a tough confirmation process in the Senate.
"While I deeply regret the unfair and misleading attacks on Susan Rice in recent weeks, her decision demonstrates the strength of her character, and an admirable commitment to rise above the politics of the moment to put our national interests first," Obama said in a statement issued Thursday.
"If nominated, I am now convinced that the confirmation process would be lengthy, disruptive and costly - to you and to our most pressing national and international priorities," Rice said in a letter to the president.
Several senators, including the Republican ex-presidential candidate John McCain, have accused Rice of lying about what happened in Libya and have insisted in recent weeks that they would vote against her nomination.
Rice's withdrawal clears the way for Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, another of the names being mentioned to replace Hillary Clinton as head of US diplomacy.