WASHINGTON – US President-elect Joe Biden is expected to nominate his longtime adviser, Antony Blinken, as the next secretary of state, The New York Times, CBS and Bloomberg reported on Sunday night. According to another report on CNN, the announcement is expected on Tuesday, and Blinken is the leading candidate.
Blinken is one of Biden’s closest advisers. In 2009, when Biden was vice president, he served as his national security adviser. Later, he became deputy national security adviser from 2013-2015 under president Barack Obama and then-deputy secretary of state from 2015-2017.
Blinken, 58, was born in New York to Jewish parents.
Early in Biden’s primary campaign, he was tapped to lead his foreign-policy team as its top adviser. In the past year, he has represented the Biden campaign in numerous events and panels, communicating the nominee’s positions on foreign policy, from China to Russia to the Middle East.
One of the top issues on his desk would be how to deal with Iran. In August, he addressed the Aspen Security Forum that was held online and defended the Obama administration’s record on the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.
Asked what Biden would do if he was elected president, Blinken said he would “seek to build on the nuclear deal and to make it longer and stronger if Iran returns to strict compliance.”
“And then,” he continued, “we would be in a position to use our renewed commitment to diplomacy, to work with our allies, to strengthen and lengthen it – but also we’d be in a much better position to effectively push back against Iran’s other destabilizing activities, because we would once again be united with our partners instead of isolated from them.”
He also noted that the arms embargo on Iran was not extended. “There’s a lot of irony in what I’m hearing from the [Trump] administration, blaming the Obama-Biden administration for the sunset of the conventional arms restrictions, because much of that was actually put in place by our administration in the first place,” he continued.
“And we could have probably extended those prohibitions from inside the deal through a unified front with our allies.”
Blinken also addressed the US-Israeli relationship and said Biden has “an ironclad” commitment to Israel’s security.
“Israel has never been – until now, unfortunately – a partisan political issue,” he said. “And I think it’s very bad for the United States and for Israel that someone tries to turn it into one.”
In May, Blinken addressed a webinar organized by a pro-Israel Democratic group, Democratic Majority for Israel. He said that as US president, Biden would keep disputes with Israel out of public view.
“Joe Biden believes strongly in keeping your differences – as far as possible – between friends, behind doors, maintaining as little distance in public as possible,” he said.
Blinken reiterated Biden’s commitment to resuming assistance to the Palestinians, adding that he would abide by congressional restrictions conditioning much of the aid on the Palestinian Authority ending payments to Palestinians who have killed or wounded Americans and Israelis. He reiterated Biden’s position that he would not condition aid to Israel.
“He is resolutely opposed to it,” Blinken said. “He would not tie military assistance to Israel to any political decisions it makes – full stop.”