May 27, 2024


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Biden expected to pick veteran diplomat Antony Blinken as secretary of state

WASHINGTON: Veteran diplomat Antony Blinken, who served as No. 2 at the US State Department and as deputy national security adviser in the Obama administration, is President-elect Joe Biden’s most likely pick to be secretary of state, a Biden ally said on Sunday (Nov 22).

Bloomberg cited sources as saying an announcement on Blinken’s appointment was expected on Tuesday. Biden’s transition team declined comment and Blinken did not respond to a request for comment.

A Biden ally, who did not want to be identified, told Reuters Blinken was Biden’s most likely choice and an announcement was expected as soon as this week.

Blinken is a longtime confidante of Biden.

Biden will announce the first of his Cabinet picks on Tuesday, incoming White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain said on Sunday.

READ: Who are the top contenders for the Biden administration?

In an interview with Reuters in October, Blinken said the United States must not cede its leadership role in the world.

“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.

People familiar with his management style describe Blinken, 58, 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.

The New York City-born, Harvard-educated Blinken practised law briefly and entered politics in the late 1980s helping 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 US combat deployments to small numbers of troops. But he told Reuters last year that Trump “gutted American credibility” with his pullback of US troops in Syria in 2019 that left Kurdish US allies in the lurch in their fight against Islamic State.

READ: Commentary – Trump’s latest foreign policy moves undermine US allies’ confidence

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, his national security adviser early in his vice presidency, and as the Democratic staff director of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee when Biden was chair.