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Anthony Blinken emerges as top pick for Joe Biden’s secretary of state

Blinken served as deputy secretary of state and deputy national security adviser during the Obama administration and has close ties with Biden.

Antony Blinken is the leading contender to become President-elect Joe Biden’s nominee for secretary of state, according to multiple people familiar with the Biden team’s planning.

Advisers to the President-elect’s transition have said they’ll make their first Cabinet announcements on Tuesday.

Mr. Blinken, 58, served as deputy secretary of state and deputy national security adviser during the Obama administration and has close ties with Mr. Biden. If nominated and confirmed, he would be a leading force in the incoming administration’s bid to reframe the U.S. relationship with the rest of the world after four years in which President Donald Trump questioned long-time alliances.

In nominating Mr. Blinken, Mr. Biden would sidestep potentially thorny issues that could have affected Senate confirmation for two other candidates on his short list to be America’s top diplomat: Susan Rice and Sen. Chris Coons.

Ms. Rice would have faced significant GOP opposition and likely rejection in the Senate. She has long been a target of Republicans, including for statements she made after the deadly 2012 attacks on Americans in Benghazi, Libya.

Mr. Coons’ departure from the Senate would have come as other Democratic senators are being considered for administrative posts and the party is hoping to win back the Senate. Control hangs on the result of two run-off elections in Georgia in January.

For his part, Mr.Blinken recently participated in a national security briefing with Mr. Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and has weighed in publicly on notable foreign policy issues in Egypt and Ethiopia.

Mr. Biden’s secretary of state would inherit a deeply demoralized and depleted career workforce at the State Department. Trump’s two secretaries of state, Rex Tillerson and Mike Pompeo, offered weak resistance to the administration’s attempts to gut the agency, which were thwarted only by congressional intervention.

Although the department escaped massive proposed cuts of more than 30% in its budget for three consecutive years, it has seen a significant number of departures from its senior and rising mid-level ranks, from which many diplomats have opted to retire or leave the foreign service given limited prospects for advancements under an administration that they believe does not value their expertise.

A graduate of Harvard University and Columbia Law School and a long-time Democratic foreign policy presence, Mr. Blinken has aligned himself with numerous former senior national security officials who have called for a major reinvestment in American diplomacy and renewed emphasis on global engagement.

Source: thehindu.com

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