U.S. President-elect Joe Biden on Monday named the key members of his foreign policy team, tapping trusted aide Antony Blinken to head the State Department and take the lead in rebuilding Washington’s relationships in Europe and the rest of the world, Reuters informed.
Biden, who has said he would undo Republican President Donald Trump’s “America First” policies, also named Jake Sullivan as his national security adviser and Linda Thomas-Greenfield as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations – both with high-level government experience.
The 78-year-old Democrat is assembling an administration from his home in Delaware as he prepares to be sworn in on Jan. 20 to lead a country facing its greatest public health crisis in living memory, even as Trump refuses to concede defeat in the Nov. 3 election and blocks the government from providing the support normally given a president-elect.
Biden named former U.S. Senator and 2004 Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry to serve as his special climate envoy. He also is likely to tap former Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen to become the next treasury secretary, said two Biden allies, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a personnel decision that was not yet public.
While Blinken, 58, is not a household name for the secretary of state job, he has held important foreign policy positions in the last two Democratic administrations, including a spell as a deputy secretary of state under President Barack Obama.
Along with Sullivan, who was a deputy assistant to Obama and senior policy adviser to Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, Blinken has helped Biden formulate a strategy that will include quick outreach to allies who have often been antagonized by Trump, and to demonstrate a willingness to work together on big global problems like the coronavirus pandemic and its economic fallout.
Biden, who was a longtime member of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has pledged to rejoin a nuclear deal with Iran if Tehran restores its compliance, return to the Paris climate accord, abandon plans to leave the World Health Organization and end a U.S. rule that bans funding of aid groups that discuss abortion. Each move would reverse Trump’s policies and some could take place quickly after the inauguration.
The prospect of an American U-turn from Trump’s foreign policy is music to the ears of many allies, especially in Europe where there has been unhappiness over Washington’s approach toward NATO, trade and relations with Russia.
The head of NATO and a top European Union official, in phone calls with Biden on Monday, invited him to rebuild transatlantic ties and meet with Washington’s European allies next year.
Biden took a step toward reversing Trump’s hard-line immigration policies by naming Cuban-born lawyer Alejandro Mayorkas to head the Department of Homeland Security.
If confirmed by the Senate, Mayorkas would become the first foreign-born leader of the sprawling department that was created after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States. Mayorkas served as its deputy secretary in the Obama administration.