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US President-elect Joe Biden is expected to nominate his closest foreign policy adviser Antony J. Blinken for the post of US secretary of state, the New York Times (NYT) reported on Monday.

Blinken, described by the NYT as a defender of global alliances, is expected to try and coalesce sceptical international partners into a new competition with China, the report said. The 58-year-old, who served as deputy secretary of state in the Barack Obama administration, began his career at the state department during Bill Clinton’s presidency. His extensive foreign policy credentials are expected to help calm US diplomats and global leaders alike after the Donald Trump years, the report added.

Biden could name another close aide, Jake Sullivan, 43, as his national security adviser, the report said. Sullivan had succeeded Blinken as the then vice-president Biden’s national security adviser. He also served as the head of policy planning at the state department under Hillary Clinton, when she was the secretary of state.

Blinken and Sullivan are seen as good friends with a common worldview. Analysts in India have welcomed the possibility of the two shepherding US foreign policy under Biden. “If this were to happen, it will be a positive development from India’s point of view," said former Indian ambassador to the US, Arun K. Singh.

Singh, who was also India’s deputy chief of mission in Washington and interacted with Blinken and Sullivan as deputy ambassador and ambassador in 2008-16, said that in their previous stints in the Obama-Biden administration, both Blinken and Sullivan were “very supportive" of India-US relations and viewed ties with a long-term strategic perspective.

India views the US as a vital foreign policy partner. New Delhi has been seeking Washington’s support for pressuring Pakistan to clamp down on terrorism. New Delhi and Washington also see eye to eye on China as a key strategic challenge for both. The US may be less strident in its criticism of China under Biden, and US businesses with interests in China could also help temper criticism, but it is clear that in substance there will be no change under the incoming administration, analysts said.

Key among Blinken’s new priorities would be to re-establish the US as a trusted ally ready to rejoin global agreements and institutions, among them the Paris climate accord, the Iran nuclear deal and the World Health Organization, all of which the US left under Trump.

Biden is also expected to name Linda Thomas-Greenfield as his ambassador to the UN. He is expected to restore the post, downgraded by Trump, to cabinet-level status. This would give Thomas-Greenfield a seat on his National Security Council.

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