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SIEM REAP, Cambodia
Sitting out the intense political battle back home, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton toured Cambodia's famed 12th-century Angkor Wat temple complex on Sunday and pledged to do more to help end the scourge of sexual slavery on a visit to a rehabilitation center for child prostitutes.
While her husband and fellow Democrats campaigned frantically ahead of Tuesday's midterm congressional elections, the former first lady and New York senator stayed well above the domestic fray, visiting the northern Cambodian city of Siem Reap while in the midst of a two-week, seven-nation trip to the Asia-Pacific.
The self-proclaimed ex-politician is barred from partisan political activity while serving as America's top diplomat. She made no mention of the fierce fight for control of Congress even as American tourists who supported her 2008 presidential bid shouted "California loves you, Hillary" as she strolled through Angkor Wat.
Clinton, the first secretary of state to visit Angkor Wat, was surrounded by snapshot-taking tourists while making her way around the massive site, admiring bas-relief wall sculpture and the sheer size of the temples. A bevy of security agents and photographers accompanied her.
Earlier Sunday, she met about 50 victims of human trafficking at the U.S.-funded Siem Reap Center where they receive education and vocational training that includes weaving and sewing lessons and, for some, English-language lessons in Colorado.
"I am so proud of you," Clinton told the girls and young women, most of whom were between 17 and 23.
"You motivate me," she said, promising them continued American support to improve their lives.
Clinton listened as one young woman, 25-year old Vann Sina, recounted being abducted at 13 and forced to have sex with 20 to 30 men a day for more than two years before being rescued from a brothel.
"To be a victim is very hard," she said, recalling how she didn't understand what she was meant to do when she was first told to "sleep" with a customer. "I cannot forget. Sometimes I dream and I get very scared."
The Siem Reap Center received a $336,000 grant from the State Department last year to fund its operating costs, and Clinton said she would make sure money continued to flow.
Combatting human trafficking is a pet issue for Clinton and one she will raise with Cambodian officials when she stops in the capital of Phnom Penh on Monday. After leaving Cambodia, Clinton will visit Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, New Zealand and Australia. She won't be back at work in Washington until a week after Election Day.