By Julian Pecquet - 12/12/12 11:19 PM EST
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has been too ill to discuss North Korea's rocket launch with world leaders.
State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Wednesday that Clinton is "really, very ill" and has been to sick to speak by phone to Chinese and other world leaders following North Korea's launch of a long-range rocket.
“I think you know that the Secretary’s been really very ill,” Nuland said at her press briefing. “I mean, very – this stomach virus is a pretty vicious one, so not yet.”
Nuland walked back the statement a step after one reporter told her, “do you have any idea what kind of headlines you're going to cause with that?”
But asked if Clinton is “able to pick up the phone and talk to people,” Nuland said that she “has not been working, she’s been trying to recover.”
Clinton has said she will step down following the successful transition to a new secretary of State, probably early next year. She is considered the current favorite to win the Democratic nomination in the 2016 presidential election, but has said she's not interested.
Clinton missed Wednesday's meeting of the U.S.-backed Friends of Syria in Morocco, where the opposition to President Bashar Assad is seeking broad international recognition.