President-elect Joe Biden on Saturday filled out his State Department team with a group of former career diplomats and veterans of the Obama administration, signalling his desire to return to a more traditional foreign policy after four years of uncertainty and unpredictability under President Donald Trump.
Mr Biden will nominate Wendy Sherman as deputy secretary of state and Victoria Nuland as undersecretary of state for political affairs – the second-and third-highest ranking posts, respectively.
They were among the officials chosen to serve under the incoming secretary of state, Antony Blinken.
The team “embodies my core belief that America is strongest when it works with our allies,” Mr Biden said in a statement.
He said he was confident “they will use their diplomatic experience and skill to restore America’s global and moral leadership. America is back.”
Among the others are:
- Longtime Biden Senate aide Brian McKeon to be deputy secretary of state for management.
- Former senior diplomats Bonnie Jenkins and Uzra Zeya to be undersecretary of state for arms control and undersecretary of state of democracy and human rights respectively.
- Derek Chollet, a familiar Democratic foreign policy hand, to be State Department counsellor.
- Former UN official Salman Ahmed as director of policy planning.
- Suzy George, who was a senior aide to former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, will be Mr Blinken's chief of staff.
- Ned Price, a former Obama administration National Security Council staffer and career CIA official who resigned in protest in the early days of the Trump administration, will serve as the public face of the department, taking on the role of spokesman.
- Jalina Porter, communications director for Representative Cedric Richmond who is leaving Congress to work in the White House, will be Mr Price's deputy.
Mr Price and Ms Porter intend to return to the practice of holding daily State Department press briefings, officials said.
Those briefings had been eliminated under Mr Trump’s administration.
Jeffrey Prescott, a former national security aide when Mr Biden was vice president, is Mr Biden’s pick to be deputy ambassador to the United Nations. He would serve under UN envoy-designate Linda Thomas-Greenfield.
Five of the 11 are either people of colour or LGBTQ.
Although most are not household names, all are advocates of multilateralism and many are familiar in Washington and overseas foreign policy circles.
Their selections are a reflection of Mr Biden’s intent to turn away from Mr Trump’s transactional and often unilateral “America First” approach to international relations.
Ms Sherman led the Obama administration’s negotiations to the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, from which Mr Trump withdrew in 2018, and had engaged in talks over ballistic missiles with North Korea during President Bill Clinton’s second term.
Ms Nuland served as assistant secretary of state for European Affairs during the Ukraine crisis.
Ms Sherman, Mr McKeon, Ms Nuland, Ms Jenkins and Ms Zeya will require Senate confirmation to their posts while the others will not.