Monday, August 2

Biden winks at diplomacy with State Department visit

Washington (CNN) — US President Joe Biden will visit the State Department on Thursday to thank a workforce repeatedly maligned during the previous administration. He will also present his broad vision for a foreign policy based on multilateral alliances and institutions.

By making his first trip to a Cabinet agency at the State Department and not the Pentagon or the CIA, Biden aims to underscore his administration’s renewed focus on repairing American alliances and using diplomacy as a tool abroad, an official said. .

Vice President Kamala Harris will accompany Biden on the visit.

Biden is not expected to offer concrete political direction in his speech to America’s oldest cabinet agency, which will focus on the theme of “restoring America’s place in the world,” one of his central campaign promises. .

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However, Biden is expected to announce his intention to increase the number of refugees allowed to be admitted to the United States after years of record lows under the Trump administration, two sources familiar with the plans told CNN, fulfilling a campaign promise.

The content and symbolism of its appearance is intended to convey unmistakable signals: that this administration values ​​diplomacy and its diplomats, will focus its foreign policy on cooperation with allies, and will work to restore its reputation as a country that leads by example.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Wednesday that Biden’s visit, which was rescheduled earlier this week due to the weather, “focuses primarily on his desire to thank the men and women who are civil servants. of the foreign service, public officials, who are the heart and soul of that institution and frankly our Government.

“Many of them have had a challenging couple of years,” he added.

Biden vs. Trump: the change of direction of the State Department

Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Biden’s longtime partner and a veteran of the Department, has tried to begin his tenure by emphasizing the importance of the State Department’s workforce, whose expertise was often shunned and viewed with suspicion by a president who once called the agency “the Department of Deep State.”

Donald Trump visited the State Department only once in his four years in office for a ceremonial event. He repeatedly and publicly disparaged one of his most respected diplomats, Marie Yovanovitch, during the course of his first impeachment trial. Her Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, did not defend her publicly or strongly, deepening the morale decline at the State Department.

Blinken got engaged to back his workforce on his first full day as secretary of state, a commitment American diplomats said was necessary after years of being vilified. However, they have also said that actions will speak louder than words and it will take time to see exactly how the Biden administration delivers on its promises and elevates the diplomatic corps.

Psaki, who was a spokesman for the State Department under the Obama administration, said Biden “will speak extensively on foreign policy.”

How could he not, if he’s there? This will not be a definition of your vision for every foreign policy issue. You will have a long time to do that, ”he said.

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Biden’s diplomatic challenges

The president, his top diplomat, and his top officials alike have repeatedly stressed that the most daunting challenges facing the United States, from the existential threat of climate change to the transnational threat of cyberattacks to peer competition from an increasingly aggressive China , require allies to work together.

The Government is now conducting a series of reviews of foreign policy challenges as it determines its own policy. However, Biden has indicated that he will seek to frame his foreign policy around strengthening alliances and returning to multilateralism after Trump’s “America First” era.

Biden has spoken by phone with more than half a dozen foreign counterparts since taking office, while Blinken has been working intensively on the phones to communicate with counterparts around the world.

A source close to both men has said they are aware there is serious repair work to be done after four years after the Trump administration left allies wary and bruised, and uncertain about how trustworthy a U.S. ally will be in the future.

“There is a real feeling among the allies: ‘How long can we count on them?'” Said the source. “We have to address that.”

– CNN’s Kevin Liptak, Jason Hoffman and Priscilla Alvarez contributed to this report.

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