Washington (CNN) - The secretary of state is usually right there in front of the president during the State of the Union address. Not so Wednesday evening, as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will stay in London, amidst a busy schedule of international conferences on Yemen and Afghanistan and meetings with world leaders.
"He (President Barack Obama) made it clear given the importance of these issues that her place tonight was in London, rather than here in Washington, " State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley told journalists at an afternoon briefing Wednesday.
"And her presence in London reflects that we have done a great deal over the past year to rebuild frayed alliances and recreate common cause in terms of fighting and solving crucial global issues."
There was no word from State Department historians on when a secretary of state last missed a State of the Union. "It's been a while," said Crowley.
Clinton attended a conference on Yemen Wednesday. She was scheduled to meet with Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai and then participate in a conference on Afghanistan Thursday.
Full coverage: President Obama's State of the Union address