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President-Elect Biden Reveals Key Foreign-Policy, National-Security Picks


U.S. President-elect Joe Biden

President-elect Joe Biden has provided the first glimpse of his incoming administration, introducing a diverse team that he said would help "heal and unite America" and which was "ready to lead the world, not retreat from it."

Addressing the nation on November 24 alongside vice president-elect Kamala Harris, Biden revealed picks for key national-security and foreign-policy positions in keeping with his vision to restore the United States' global leadership role.

"America is back” on the world stage, Biden said in a shift from outgoing President Donald Trump's "America First" approach. Biden said his administration would be "ready to confront adversaries, while not alienating allies."

The president-elect said that his nominee for secretary of state -- his longtime adviser and veteran diplomat Antony Blinken -- would "rebuild morale and trust in the U.S. State Department."

Blinken later vowed to pursue international cooperation as the United States' top diplomat, saying that "we have to proceed with equal measures of humility and confidence."

Biden named Cuban-born lawyer Alejandro Mayorkas as his choice to lead the Department of Homeland Security, which would make him the first Latino to head the agency responsible for most of the country's immigration policies.

Veteran diplomat Linda Thomas-Greenfield, a black woman whom Biden said was known as a "people's ambassador" while carrying out foreign service on African affairs and other roles, was tapped to be U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

Avril Haines was chosen to occupy the post of director of national intelligence, which would make the former CIA deputy director and former deputy national-security adviser the first woman to head U.S. intelligence.

For national-security adviser, the pick was Jake Sullivan, another alumnus of the administration of Barack Obama in which Biden served as vice president.

Climate Change

Biden also highlighted his intention to take a leading role on the environment, saying that for the first time "climate change will be on the agenda in the situation room" with his appointment of former Secretary of State John Kerry as his special presidential envoy for climate issues.

In the newly created position, Kerry will be a member of the National Security Council "and will have a seat at every table," Biden said.

Biden's unveiling of his nominees came a day after Trump signed off on the start of the White House transition, despite continuing to refuse to concede victory to Biden in the November 3 presidential election.

The event, held at a theater in Biden's hometown of Wilmington, Delaware, also came just minutes after Biden's victory in Nevada -- one of the last battleground states to approve results -- became official.

All of his nominees must be approved by the Senate, which could still be controlled by Republicans depending on twin runoff elections in the state of Georgia on January 5, 2021.

Biden, who is to be inaugurated as president in Washington on January 20, said that he hoped his nominees receive prompt confirmation.

With reporting by AP, AFP, and Reuters
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