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Joe Biden to pick veteran diplomat Antony Blinken as U.S. secretary of state

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Joe Biden will pick veteran diplomat Antony Blinken as U.S. secretary of state, a person close to the president-elect’s team said on Sunday, adding that an announcement is likely on Tuesday.

Blinken is a longtime Biden confidant who served as No. 2 at the State Department and as deputy national security adviser in President Barack Obama’s administration, in which Biden served as vice president.

Blinken’s appointment made another longtime Biden aide, Jake Sullivan, the top candidate for his U.S. national security adviser, the person said. Bloomberg News earlier reported the expected nomination.

Biden’s transition team declined to comment and Blinken did not respond to a request for comment.

Blinken, 58, has long touted the view that the United States needs to take an active leadership role in the world, engaging with allies, or see that role filled by countries like China with contrary interests.

“As much of a burden as it sometimes seems to play … the alternative in terms of our interests and the lives of Americans are much worse,” he said in an interview with Reuters in October.

People familiar with his management style describe Blinken as a “diplomat’s diplomat,” deliberative and relatively soft-spoken, but well-versed in the nuts and bolts of foreign policy.

After Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton lost the 2016 election to President Donald Trump, Blinken became one of the founders of WestExec Advisors, a Washington consultancy advising corporations on geopolitical risks.

Having practiced law briefly, he entered politics in the late 1980s helping Democrat Michael Dukakis’ presidential campaign raise money.

He joined Democratic President Bill Clinton’s White House as a speechwriter and became one of his national security aides.

Under Obama, Blinken worked to limit most U.S. combat deployments to small numbers of troops. But he told Reuters last year that Trump had “gutted American credibility” with his pullback of U.S. troops in Syria in 2019 that left Kurdish U.S. allies in the lurch in their fight against Islamic State.

On the campaign trail, Blinken was one of Biden’s closest advisers, even on issues that went beyond foreign policy.

That trust is the product of the years Blinken worked alongside Biden as an adviser to his unsuccessful 2008 presidential campaign, as national security adviser early in his vice presidency and as the Democratic staff director of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee when Biden was chair. 

Caption: A file photo of former US deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken talks during press conference at The American Center in Yangon, Myanmar, 22 May 2015.. EPA/LYNN BO BO

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