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Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

President Biden is reviewing a list of finalists as he prepares to nominate a series of ambassadors to key embassy postings, people familiar with the matter tell Axios.

Why it matters: The new president has promised to restore alliances and put diplomacy at the center of his foreign policy, with his ambassadors playing a crucial role in listening to host governments and explaining the administration’s policies.

  • It's unclear which posts are on the first list of nominees, but London, Paris and Rome are the most coveted in Western Europe, with postings in China and Japan having the most foreign policy implications.
  • Some final decisions, and announcements, could come as soon as April.
  • The list Biden is considering isn’t exhaustive and doesn’t include all the available openings.
  • Steve Ricchetti, counselor to the president, and Cathy Russell, director of the Office of Presidential Personnel, are shepherding the process.

The big picture: Biden officials have been tempering expectations among his big-dollar donors, suggesting the president will nominate fewer of them to coveted positions.

  • Wealthy donors are getting nervous they may have already been passed over.
  • Biden will likely draw on so-called political ambassadors — including allies and financial backers — for roughly 30% of the openings.
  • The remaining 70% would go to career Foreign Service Officers.
  • President Trump selected political ambassadors for 44% of his total appointments — higher than the recent 30% norm.

What we are watching: Will Biden choose a bold-face name who made a career in business or politics for his China post?

  • Or will he draw on someone with more diplomatic experience — like Nick Burns, a former undersecretary of state for political affairs — to rely on their technical skills?
  • Biden officials also have weighed prominent Republicans — including Cindy McCain and former Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) — to highlight the importance of bipartisanship in U.S. foreign policy, Axios reported last month.
  • Richard Blum, the husband of Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), has expressed interest in a foreign posting, the New York Times reported.

Go deeper

Updated 18 mins ago - Axios Twin Cities

Police: Officer who shot Daunte Wright accidentally pulled gun instead of taser

The officer who fatally shot Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old Black man, outside Minneapolis Sunday appeared to have inadvertently pulled out her gun instead of a taser, police said.

Driving the news: "This appears to me, from what I viewed in the officer's reaction and distress immediately after, that this was an accidental discharge that resulted in the tragic death of Mr. Wright," Brooklyn Center Police Chief Tim Gannon told reporters Monday.

2 hours ago - World

Scoop: U.S. and Israel to hold strategic Iran talks on Tuesday

Jake Sullivan. Photo: Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA/Bloomberg via Getty

Top national security officials from the U.S. and Israel will convene virtually on Tuesday for a second round of strategic talks on Iran, three Israeli officials tell me.

Why it matters: The talks come two days after an explosion at an Iranian nuclear facility that experts consider a likely act of Israeli sabotage, and one day before the U.S. resumes indirect nuclear talks in Vienna over a return to the 2015 nuclear deal — a prospect that has raised anxiety levels in Jerusalem.

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Health: The warning signs of a longer pandemic — CDC director: Answer to Michigan COVID-19 surge is "to close things down."
  2. Vaccines: Former FDA chief offers reality check on vaccine passports.
  3. Economy: Jobs growth could be curbed by demands for higher wages.
  4. World: Facebook to push notifications about vaccine eligibility to 20 countries outside of the U.S. — Brits flock to pubs for first time in months as U.K. lockdown eases.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.