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US Senate Confirms Blinken to Lead State Department

By VOA News January 26, 2021

The U.S. Senate confirmed Antony Blinken to be the country's top diplomat Tuesday, paving the way for the Biden administration's eventual reversal of the Trump administration's isolationist policies.

Blinken was confirmed by a 72-22 vote to serve as the country's 71st secretary of state, filling the most senior Cabinet position and one that is fourth in the line of presidential succession.

At a confirmation hearing last week, Blinken said he is ready to confront the challenges posed by China, Iran, Russia and North Korea.

He said China "poses the most significant challenge" to U.S. national interests, while noting there is room for cooperation.

"There are rising adversarial aspects of the relationship; certainly, competitive ones, and still some cooperative ones, when it is in our mutual interests," he said.

Conservative lawmakers' opposition to Blinken centered on concerns that he may help the new administration reenter the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran and that he would halt former President Donald Trump's "maximum pressure" campaign against the Middle Eastern power.

He also pledged to rebuild State Department morale and the diplomatic corps. Blinken said he sees U.S. standing abroad as leadership based on "humility and confidence."

The 58-year-old was deputy secretary of state during the Obama administration and has close ties with President Joe Biden. He was staff director for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee when Biden was chair of the panel, and later was then-Vice President Biden's national security adviser.

The Foreign Relations Committee approved Blinken's nomination by a vote of 15-3, sending the matter to the full Senate for final approval.

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