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British Foreign Minister William Hague steps down

Foreign Secretary William Hague has resigned as part of an anticipated reshuffle of Britain's center-right coalition cabinet. Prime Minister David Cameron is thought to be preparing the ground for a 2015 election.

Hague resigned on Monday night, the eve of an expected cabinet reshuffle by British Prime Minister David Cameron.

"Tonight I am standing down as Foreign Secretary after four years to serve as Leader of the House of Commons," Hague wrote on Twitter, adding that he would not stand as a member of parliament in the next UK general election.

"Renewal in politics is good, and holding office is not an end in itself," added Hague, who will remain in the cabinet as Leader of the House of Commons.

Recent years have seen him involved with numerous diplomatic efforts including Ukraine and, more notably, Syria.

Although Cameron's reshuffle was expected as he draws the battle lines ahead of a general election next year, there had been no prediction of Hague's resignation. Hague's expected replacement has been touted as current Defense Secretary Philip Hammond.

Hague, who served briefly in the cabinet of former British Prime Minister John Major, was leader of the Conservative Party from June 1997 to September 2001. He became Foreign Secretary in the aftermath of the Conservative Party and Liberal Democrat coalition coming to power in 2010.

Hague famously made his debut on the political stage at the age of 16, giving a speech at a 1977 party conference in front of then-leader Margaret Thatcher.

Among the others to depart a ministerial post was Tory stalwart Kenneth Clarke - a committed member of the party's pro-Europe faction - who leaves his role as minister without portfolio.

The cabinet reshuffle is expected to be used as an opportunity for Cameron to fill more government roles with women.

rc/bk (AP, AFP, dpa, Reuters)