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Senate confirms Antony Blinken as international minister

Antony J. Blinken speaks during his confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC, on January 19, 2021.

Alex Edelman | Pool | AFP | Getty Images

WASHINGTON – The Senate confirmed Antony Blinken as the nation’s next foreign secretary on Tuesday.

The Senate voted 78 to 22.

Blinken, a veteran diplomat, told lawmakers last week it would focus on reconnecting with America’s allies following the Trump administration’s “America First” foreign policy. Blinken said, however, that Trump “rightly took a tougher approach to China”.

“I strongly disagree on how he has acted in a number of areas, but the rationale was the right one and I think that is actually helpful for our foreign policy,” Blinken said at his Senate confirmation hearing the day before Biden’s inauguration.

Blinken told lawmakers that the Biden government would re-examine the landmark Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), but did not provide details on Washington’s next steps.

The 2015 JCPOA brokered by the Obama administration lifted sanctions against Iran, which had paralyzed its economy and roughly halved its oil exports. In return for easing sanctions, Iran accepted limits on its nuclear program until the terms expired in 2025. Trump described the deal as “the worst deal ever,” and withdrew from the deal in 2018.

Blinken’s confirmation follows that of Avril Haines, who became the first woman to head the country’s 18 intelligence agencies as director of the national intelligence agency. Lloyd Austin, the country’s first black female defense secretary, and Janet Yellen, the first woman to head the Treasury.

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