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Biden to nominate aide Blinken as secretary of state, Linda Thomas-Greenfield as ambassador to the United Nations

Then-Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.), right, confers with campaign adviser Antony Blinken as he prepares for a vice presidential debate with Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin in St. Louis on Oct. 2, 2008.
Then-Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.), right, confers with campaign adviser Antony Blinken as he prepares for a vice presidential debate with Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin in St. Louis on Oct. 2, 2008.James Estrin/NYT

President-elect Joe Biden is planning to announce that he has selected Antony Blinken, one of his closest and longest-serving foreign-policy advisers, as secretary of state.

Biden is also planning to announce Linda Thomas-Greenfield as his nominee for ambassador to the United Nations, giving a former career foreign service officer and African American woman one of the most high-profile diplomatic posts in government, according to three people familiar with the decision.

Blinken would take on one of the highest-profile Cabinet positions at a time when Biden is planning to prioritize foreign policy as a major pillar in his administration, with vows to re-stitch global alliances and insert the United States into a more prominent position on the world stage.

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Soon after taking office, Biden plans to rejoin the Paris climate agreement, stop the U.S. exit from the World Health Organization and rejoin the Iran nuclear deal. Blinken has been described as having a “mind meld” with Biden on a range of issues that will be important in his early tenure.

Blinken’s appointment, first reported Sunday night by Bloomberg News, was confirmed by three people familiar with an announcement scheduled for Tuesday. Jake Sullivan, another top Biden adviser, is expected to be named as national security adviser, according to two people familiar with the announcement.

Blinken was the staff director for Biden while he was chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and he has worked on his presidential campaigns. During the Obama administration, he was deputy national security adviser and deputy secretary of state.

Throughout Biden’s campaign, he played a prominent role and was often by Biden’s side during major decisions or in drafting big speeches.

He co-founded a political strategy firm, WestExec Advisors, along with Michele Flournoy, who served in the Obama administration and is widely believed to be in contention to serve as secretary of defense in the Biden administration. She would be the first woman to assume that role.

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Thomas-Greenfield served as the top U.S. diplomat to Africa under President Obama, an assistant secretary job that capped her 35-year career in the Foreign Service. Known as “LTG” among State Department rank and file, Thomas-Greenfield retired in 2017 after Trump took power. She joined the Albright Stone Bridge advisory firm as a senior counselor and worked with former secretary of state Madeleine Albright, her mentor.