Biden's top diplomat, Blinken, vows to revitalize alliances, U.S. leadership
By Humeyra Pamuk, Patricia Zengerle and David Brunnstrom WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President-elect Joe Biden's nominee to be secretary of state, Antony Blinken, pledged on Tuesday that he will work to revitalize damaged American diplomacy and build a united front to counter the challenges posed by Russia, China and Iran. At his confirmation hearing a day before Democrat Biden takes over from Republican Donald Trump, whose four-year tenure was marked by unilateral American action that often upset allies, Blinken said he would work with them and with humility
By Humeyra Pamuk, Patricia Zengerle and David Brunnstrom
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President-elect Joe Biden's nominee to be secretary of state, Antony Blinken, pledged on Tuesday that he will work to revitalize damaged American diplomacy and build a united front to counter the challenges posed by Russia, China and Iran.
At his confirmation hearing a day before Democrat Biden takes over from Republican Donald Trump, whose four-year tenure was marked by unilateral American action that often upset allies, Blinken said he would work with them and with humility.
Blinken, 58, a veteran foreign policy hand and close confidant of Biden, also explained why U.S. leadership is vital for the world, while promising a foreign policy that will deliver for the American people.
"When we’re not engaged, when we don’t lead, then one of two things happen: either some other country tries to take our place, but probably not in a way that advances our interests or values. Or no one does, and then you get chaos," Blinken told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
"Either way, that does not serve the American people."
Blinken testified two weeks after the building representing American democracy was stormed by thousands of members of a pro-Trump mob seeking to overturn Biden's election victory.
The unprecedented attack on the U.S. Capitol stunned the world, further bruised America's standing and gave ammunition to U.S. adversaries.
Biden will be taking on a much different world from the one he left four years ago as President Barack Obama’s vice president. China has assumed a larger global role, ranging from multilateral institutions to assisting development in Africa and Latin America. Ties between Washington and Beijing have sunk to their worst in decades, prompting Cold War comparisons.
There has been no indication that Blinken would face difficulty being confirmed by the Senate.
PUT TEAM IN PLACE
As the hearing began, the committee's chairman, Republican Senator Jim Risch, and Democratic Senator Bob Menendez, who will become chairman after Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and new senators from Georgia are sworn in, both said they wanted Biden's national security team to be put in place quickly.
"I think all of us have a very strong interest in seeing that the president has in place, as rapidly as possible, his national security team," Risch said.
"The world is on fire," Menendez said.
One of Trump's major international actions was pulling the United States out of the 2015 international nuclear agreement with Iran. Risch and Menendez, who both opposed the pact, warned against a quick return.
"I fear returning ... without concrete efforts to address Iran's other dangerous and destabilizing activity would be insufficient," Menendez said. However, he also said he believed there was bipartisan support for a "comprehensive, diplomatic approach" to Iran.
Risch also said any discussions with Iran should involve U.S. allies, including Israel, and he said any new nuclear deal should be submitted as a treaty for Senate ratification.
Both senators stressed the importance of a strong stance on China.
"I hope and expect that the Biden administration will pursue bipartisan cooperation on challenge of proposals posed by the Chinese Communist Party," Risch said.
"One of those challenges is Taiwan. The PRC's obliteration of Hong Kong's autonomy last year makes the question of Taiwan's future all the more urgent," he said.
(Reporting by Humeyra Pamuk, Patricia Zengerle and David Brunnstrom; editing by Jonathan Oatis and Grant McCool)
This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.
By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States
BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.