US President-elect Joe Biden will name Antony Blinken – a long-time national security and foreign policy expert who is enthusiastic about ties with India and sees China as a “common challenge” – as his secretary of state on Tuesday, according to an announcement by his transition team.
Biden will also name other members of his national security team: Alejandro Mayorkas as secretary of the department of homeland security who is the first Latino to be named to this position; Linda Thomas-Greenfield as UN ambassador; former secretary of state John Kerry as special presidential envoy for climate who will sit on the National Security Council; Avril Haines as director of National Intelligence who will be the first woman to lead the US intelligence community; and Jake Sullivan.
“We have no time to lose when it comes to our national security and foreign policy. I need a team ready on day one to help me reclaim America’s seat at the head of the table, rally the world to meet the biggest challenges we face, and advance our security, prosperity and values,” Biden said in a statement, announcing these names.
“This is the crux of that team. These individuals are equally as experienced and crisis-tested as they are innovative and imaginative. Their accomplishments in diplomacy are unmatched, but they also reflect the idea that we cannot meet the profound challenges of this new moment with old thinking and unchanged habits – or without diversity of background and perspective. It’s why I’ve selected them,” Biden added.
Vice-president-elect Kamala Harris said, “These crisis-tested national security and foreign policy leaders have the knowledge and expertise to keep our country safe, and restore and advance America’s leadership around the world. They represent the best of America.”
Blinken, who served as deputy secretary of state in the Obama-Biden administration, has been a front-runner for the position of Biden’s top diplomat. He was also the Biden campaign’s chief foreign policy official.
In an outreach to the Indian-American community in the run-up to the election, Blinken had described China as a “common challenge”, taking into cognizance China’s “aggression” towards India at the Line of Actual Control.
Speaking generally on ties with India, he had said, “We will be an advocate for India to play a leading role in international institutions, and that includes helping India get a seat on a reformed United Nations Security Council. We will work together to strengthen India’s defence.”
Blinken had gone on to reiterate long-running US commitment to combating terrorism, making common cause with India. “We have no tolerance for terrorism in South Asia or anywhere else, cross-border or otherwise,” Blinken had said, adding, “We used every tool at our disposal to make sure that our citizens, and the citizens of our partners, are safe. And that’s something we will build on in a Biden administration.”