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US Senate confirms Blinken as next Secretary of State

78-22 vote clears way for to become America's next top diplomat

Anadolu Agency WORLD
Published January 26,2021
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The Senate overwhelmingly confirmed Tuesday US President Joe Biden's pick Tuesday to lead the State Department, making him the fourth Cabinet-level official to receive the chamber's blessing since Biden took office last week.

The final 78-22 vote clears the way for Anthony Blinken to become America's next top diplomat as Biden seeks to return the US to active multilateral engagement with the world.

Prior to Blinken, Avril Haines received confirmation to become the Director of National Intelligence, followed by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen.

Blinken previously served in the Obama administration as deputy Secretary of State and deputy National Security Advisor. He worked with Biden personally as an advisor during his time in the Senate and while he was vice president.

Among the challenges ahead for Blinken will be leading the US push to re-engage with Iran after former US President Donald Trump's "maximum pressure" campaign saw Washington unilaterally leave in 2018 the landmark nuclear agreement Tehran negotiated with world powers while imposing layers of economic sanctions that have eviscerated Iran's economy.

It is unclear how Biden plans to return the US to compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, and Blinken offered no specifics during his confirmation hearing last week. But Iran has demanded that US sanctions be lifted before it returns to full compliance.

Blinken will also have to work on restoring relations with key allies in Europe after ties deteriorated under Trump, and charting a path forward vis-a-vis China.