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US President-elect Joe Biden announced on Monday that William Burns was his choice to head the Central Intelligence Agency, bringing in a retired veteran diplomat who has helped run secret talks with Iran.
Burns spent more than three decades in the foreign service of the United States, including a stint as Ambassador to Russia from 2005 to 2008 and senior jobs in the State Department.
“Bill Burns is an exemplary diplomat with decades of experience on the world stage in ensuring the security of our people and our country,” Biden said in a statement released by his transition team.
Burns, who holds an MA and PhD from the University of Oxford, was also the United States Ambassador to Oman from 1998 to 2001.
He retired from the foreign service in 2014 and is president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, a think tank on international affairs in the United States.
Burns had been seen as a likely candidate to lead the State Department under Biden, given his deep experience with Iran.
He was involved in back door negotiations that paved the way for the 2015 deal to limit Iran’s nuclear capabilities.
“The fact that we did it quietly or secretly caused some controversy,” he said in an interview in 2016.
“But the reality is that after 35 years without sustained diplomatic contact between the United States and Iran, there was an enormous amount of baggage, a lot of mistrust and a lot of grievances. ”
© 2021 AFP