Former US president Bill Clinton on Wednesday praised the team president-elect Barack Obama has assembled but stopped short of directly applauding his wife's nomination as secretary of state.
Delivering the keynote speech at the conclusion of a meeting of business and political leaders in Hong Kong, he drew laughs from the audience for his veiled reference to Hillary Clinton.
"I have every confidence that - you can say I now have a vested interest in saying this - but I believe president-elect Obama has put together a very good economic team and a very good national security team," he said.
Clinton has remained studiously tight-lipped about his wife's nomination during the first Asian meeting of his Clinton Global Initiative, his first public appearance since she was unveiled earlier this week.
But he insisted the new US administration could not shy away from tough global issues such as climate change and providing healthcare and education to the world's poorest because of the global financial crisis.
"The current difficulties are not an excuse to do nothing, they are a reason to bear down and try to do more," he said.
President Clinton has agreed to publish the names of more than 200,000 donors to his charitable foundation as part of a deal with Obama over his wife's nomination as secretary of state.
He has also said he will not hold further meetings of his Clinton Global Initiative outside the United States.
© 2008 Agence France Presse. All rights reserved.