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Obama Taps Senior Aide for No. 2 State Department Job

After months of intense debate between the White House and the State Department, President Barack Obama nominated Deputy National Security Advisor Tony Blinken for the position of deputy secretary of State, the No. 2 job in Foggy Bottom on Friday. The president came to that view despite the opinion of Secretary of State John Kerry, ...

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Getty Images
Getty Images

After months of intense debate between the White House and the State Department, President Barack Obama nominated Deputy National Security Advisor Tony Blinken for the position of deputy secretary of State, the No. 2 job in Foggy Bottom on Friday.

After months of intense debate between the White House and the State Department, President Barack Obama nominated Deputy National Security Advisor Tony Blinken for the position of deputy secretary of State, the No. 2 job in Foggy Bottom on Friday.

The president came to that view despite the opinion of Secretary of State John Kerry, who advocated for Wendy Sherman, the under secretary of state for political affairs and chief U.S. negotiator on the Iran nuclear talks.

"This was a really tough decision, very tough because of the quality of the choices, and ultimately, as tough as it was, Kerry felt that Wendy earned it, and so that was his view," one source told Foreign Policy earlier this week.

On Friday, Kerry issued a public statement praising Blinken’s fitness for the position.

"His rare combination of deep policy expertise, impeccable judgment, and an inclusive leadership style will make him an exceptional leader and manager in the department," said Kerry. "His colleagues across the government appreciate his genuine human decency and sense of humor, even in the most stressful of circumstances."

A key player on a range of foreign-policy issues within the White House, especially on Syria, Blinken is widely viewed as a collegial and non-ideological consensus-builder in the Oval Office.

Blinken has previously served as national security advisor to Vice President Joe Biden, staff director of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and senior director for European affairs at the National Security Council during the Clinton administration.

Ahead of his confirmation, Sherman is serving as acting deputy secretary, the State Department announced Monday.

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