Home World News Biden to name longtime aide Antony Blinken as Secretary of State

Biden to name longtime aide Antony Blinken as Secretary of State

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WASHINGTON (BLOOMBERG) – US President-elect Joe Biden intends to name his longtime adviser Antony Blinken as Secretary of State, according to three people familiar with the matter, setting out to assemble his Cabinet even before Mr Donald Trump concedes defeat.

In addition, Mr Jake Sullivan, formerly one of Mrs Hillary Clinton’s closest aides, is likely to be named Mr Biden’s national security adviser, according to two people familiar with the matter. An announcement is expected Tuesday, the people said.

Mr Biden’s incoming White House chief of staff Ron Klain said Sunday the president-elect would be making his initial Cabinet announcements on Tuesday, but he declined to specify which positions would be filled first.

The people familiar with Mr Biden’s selections asked not to be identified because he hasn’t yet made the announcements.

Both Mr Sullivan, who is 43, and Mr Blinken, 58, served stints as Mr Biden’s national security adviser when he was vice-president.

The Secretary of State is regarded as one of the most prestigious Cabinet posts. As the nation’s top diplomat, this official conducts meetings with foreign leaders across the globe.

The Secretary of State also leads a staff of dozens of experts drawn from the government’s military, diplomatic and intelligence agencies who develop US foreign and military policy.

Mr Blinken and Mr Sullivan did not immediately respond to requests for comment. A Biden spokesman declined to comment.

Mr Blinken has been regarded as one of the leading candidates to run the State Department. After serving as the vice-president’s national security adviser, he was elevated to deputy secretary of state under President Barack Obama.

When Mr Biden was a senator, Mr Blinken served as his staff director on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee before leaving to work on Mr Biden’s 2008 presidential campaign.

Mr Blinken graduated from Harvard and from Columbia Law School.

Following the Obama administration, Mr Blinken co-founded WestExec Advisors, a political strategy firm, with a top Obama-era Pentagon official, Ms Michele Flournoy.

The selection of Mr Blinken as America’s top diplomat signals Mr Biden’s aim to place experienced people in key Cabinet posts.  

Mr Biden on Nov 17 met with defence and intelligence experts, including Mr Blinken and others who worked for Mr Obama when Mr Biden was vice-president.

He gathered them together because the Trump administration has blocked him from getting the intelligence briefings traditionally granted the president-elect. 

“We’ve been through a lot of damage done over the last four years, in my view. We need to rebuild our institutions and my workforce to reflect the full strength and diversity of our country,” Mr Biden said at the briefing. “We need to focus on readiness for whatever may come.”