US Secretary of State Tony Blinken on his first day on the job said “the world is watching” how President Joe Biden’s administration will change course from the “America First” approach of former President Donald Trump.
Speaking at a small welcoming ceremony on Wednesday, a day after being confirmed Through the US Senate, Blinken has pledged to rebuild the ranks and morale of the US foreign service, which was depleted during Trump’s presidency.
“The world is watching us intently right now. They want to know if we can heal our nation, ”Blinken said.
“They want to see if we will lead with the power of our example and if we will focus on diplomacy with our allies and partners to meet the great challenges of our time.”
Since being sworn in, Blinken, the longest-serving member of Biden’s cabinet to date, has launched a wave of appeals to his counterparts in neighboring and allied countries, including Canada, Mexico, Japan and Korea. South.
At a press conference later Wednesday, Blinken said the desire to regain the United States as a reliable ally was “almost palpable.”
“What I have already taken away from these conversations is a very, very strong desire for the United States to come back to the room. Back to the table. To work with them on many, many common challenges that we face, ”he said.
Blinken, assistant secretary of state in the administration of former President Barack Obama, is known to have a more interventionist outlook than Biden, to whom he is a longtime adviser.
Also on Wednesday, Blinken outlined several policies of the Trump administration that he announced his intention to review, including the recent designation of Yemen’s Houthi rebels as a “foreign terrorist organization.”
Aid groups and the United Nations have warned that the sanctions accompanying this designation would prevent aid deliveries to Yemeni civilians in Houthi-controlled areas and exacerbate an already severe humanitarian crisis in the war-torn country.
Blinken said the Houthis “committed a significant act of aggression” in taking control of the Yemeni capital, Sana’a, in 2014 and committed “human rights violations and other atrocities”.
But he also said that the US-backed, rebel-fighting coalition, led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, had “also contributed to what is by many estimates the worst humanitarian crisis in the world today. ‘hui’.
Biden had previously vowed to “reassess” Washington’s relationship with Riyadh and end US support for the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen.
Blinken also reiterated his pledge to build on the normalization agreements between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco, which were negotiated by the Trump administration, but said he would consider first “all the commitments that could have been made to obtain these agreements”.
On the US-Taliban deal made under Trump, Blinken said the administration is working to “ensure that we fully understand the commitments the Taliban made, as well as any commitments we made.” .
He added that Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad will remain the United States Special Representative for Reconciliation in Afghanistan.
Blinken said the United States will continue to confront Russia over the treatment of opposition activist Alexey Navalny and his supporters, as well as alleged interference in the 2020 election and reports of Russian bounties on soldiers. Americans in Afghanistan.
He said the United States would also continue to take a hard line on China, while trying to strengthen the “cooperative” aspects of the relationship, which he called “arguably the most important relationship. that we have in the world ”.
Agreement with Iran
One of the most pressing US foreign policy issues facing the Biden administration is the US-Iran relationship, which sank to new lows during the Trump administration’s “maximum pressure” strategy against the Iranian government. .
Iran has said it would only revert to a 2015 multilateral nuclear deal if the United States lifts the Trump-era sanctions. The former US president in 2018 unilaterally withdrew from the deal, which saw Iran agree to curb its nuclear program in exchange for a lifting of sanctions.
The Biden administration has said Tehran must take the first step in returning to compliance with the agreement before any progress can be made.
Blinken on Wednesday gave little indication that there would soon be a breakthrough in the deadlock.
“We are far from it. Iran is not in compliance on a number of fronts, ”he said. “And it would take some time if he makes a decision to do that for him to come back into compliance and time for us then to assess whether he is meeting his obligations.”