A poignant photograph taken at the White House last month shows Hillary Clinton standing alone by a colonnade as she watches a press conference between President Obama and his South Korean counterpart. Was she feeling left out? If not, she soon would be. The next day she fell heavily in the basement of the State Department, shattering her elbow and consigning herself to intensive physical therapy that would force her to miss some of the most important foreign visits yet undertaken by the Administration, including President Obamas landmark visit to Moscow. This week, Mrs Clinton shed her sling and re-emerged on the global stage, delivering a high-profile foreign policy overview at the Council of Foreign Relations before departing on a key trip to India and Pakistan yesterday. In the months ahead she will embark on her own trip to Russia. Her reappearance has again focused attention on her role as Secretary of State and the question of whether there is, in fact, anything for her to do. The packed foreign in-tray inherited by the Obama White House prompted the appointment of an unprecedented number of special envoys, including George Mitchell, the veteran peacemaker, for the Middle East, and Richard Holbrooke, for the Afghanistan-Pakistan quagmire. Even Joe Biden, the Vice-President, has assumed an increasingly public diplomatic role with a July 4 trip to Iraq. Tina Brown, the doyenne of the New York magazine world, called Mrs Clinton the invisible woman and said: Its time for Barack Obama to let Hillary Clinton take off her burka. Mrs Clinton is said to be bemused by such comments; insiders say she has begun her new job much as she carried out her last defying critics who dismissed her as a show pony by putting her head down to become one of the hardest-working and most respected senators in the House. Any criticisms of her apparent lack of individual vision are put down to the lack of serious differences with the President over foreign policy. Wendy Chamberlin, the head of the Middle East Institute, said that the apparently higher-profile role taken by Mrs Clintons predecessor, Condoleezza Rice, could be attributed to President Bushs lack of enthusiasm for the outside world, and vice versa. Dr Rice, however, did have her Presidents ear unlike Colin Powell, who became increasingly irrelevant as world leaders realised he was not listened to by the White House. That is one mistake Mrs Clinton plans to avoid. In her speech yesterday, she paid fealty to Mr Obamas strategy of diplomatic engagement, mentioning him no less than eight times. If she is frustrated by the White Houses frequent raids on her staff most recently of Dennis Ross, her top Iran adviser that is offset by what they say about the importance Mr Obama places on foreign affairs. Her only show of pique came this week over the failure to appoint a director for USAID, the development agency that she sees as critical to turning the tide in places like Afghanistan. Its hard to justify not having our full government in place six months after we started, she said. (The Times)