Biden picks diplomatic field veteran to restore US image at UN

US president-elect chooses US Foreign Service veteran Linda Thomas-Greenfield as UN ambassador

epa08837903 (FILE) - US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affiars Linda Thomas-Greenfield speaks during the official inauguration of the Mount Coffee Power Plant in Harrisburg, outside Monrovia, Liberia, 15 December 2016 (Reissued 23 November 2020). According to reports on 23 November 2020, US President-elect Joe Biden will nominate Linda Thomas-Greenfield to become the US Ambassador to the UN.  EPA/AHMED JALLANZO *** Local Caption *** 53165771
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US President-elect Joe Biden has named Linda Thomas-Greenfield, a career diplomat with extensive experience in Africa, as his pick for ambassador to the United Nations.

In a statement, Mr Biden's transition team described her as a "35-year veteran of the US Foreign Service" who has served across four continents and led policy on Sub-Saharan Africa during the Obama administration.

The appointment of a black woman to a highly-visible, cabinet-level role shows Mr Biden making good on pledges to promote diversity in his ranks and of reviving a diminished State Department.

In a statement, Mr Biden said he had picked a diverse range of "crisis-tested", "innovative and imaginative" candidates to run world affairs and to "reclaim America's seat at the head of the table".

Ms Thomas-Greenfield served as US ambassador to Liberia and has been posted to the UN in Switzerland, Pakistan, Kenya, Gambia, Nigeria and Jamaica. For two years, she ran human resources for the State Department's 70,000-strong workforce.

Since leaving public service at the start of the Trump administration in 2017, Ms Thomas-Greenfield has led the Africa Practice at Albright Stonebridge Group, a diplomatic consultancy firm chaired by Madeleine Albright, a former top US diplomat.

After her name was announced, Ms Thomas-Greenfield explained on Twitter that, if confirmed by US senators, she would "lead with the power of kindness and compassion to make the world a better place".

In selecting a veteran diplomat, Mr Biden may be signalling a bid to repair America's global standing, which has been affected by the Trump administration's go-it-alone, "America first" policies.

During his term, President Donald Trump has pulled the US out of the Iran nuclear deal as well as the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change and has announced plans to exit the World Health Organization, moves that have been widely criticised at UN headquarters.

Ms Thomas-Greenfield co-authored an article in Foreign Affairs magazine this month, addressing a "transformation of diplomacy" and "how to save the State Department" after it had been weakened by the Trump administration.

News of Ms Thomas-Greenfield's selection was received positively at the UN, thanks in part to her expertise in Sub-Saharan Africa, with violence in Congo, South Sudan and other hotspots frequently reaching the UN agenda.

Speaking with reporters on Monday, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said the body's Secretary-General Antonio Guterres would work "very closely" with the new American UN ambassador.

Richard Gowan, a UN expert at the International Crisis Group think tank, said on Twitter that Ms Thomas-Greenfield was "superbly-placed to rectify a sense of drift in US engagement on Africa" under the Trump administration.