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Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden will nominate William Burns, president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and a career diplomat for over 30 years, to serve as director of the CIA, the transition confirmed Monday.

Why. it matters: If confirmed, Burns would be the first career diplomat to lead the agency. Burns served the State Department in a number of posts around the world from the Reagan to the Obama administrations.

  • "The choice of Burns will disappoint those who wanted a career intelligence officer to succeed Gina Haspel, the current director," writes the Washington Post's David Ignatius.
  • "What’s likely to have appealed to Biden, in addition to his personal comfort level with Burns, is his reputation as a nonpartisan figure who served in hard places — Russia and the Middle East — and over the years developed close relationships with the countries that are the CIA’s key liaison partners."

Background: Burns, who Ignatius writes "is widely viewed as the best Foreign Service officer of his generation," served in a number of State Department roles from 1982 until 2014, including an ambassadorship to Russia from 2005 to 2008. He was deputy secretary of state in the Obama administration.

  • Burns was involved in secret backchannel talks with Iran that culminated in the 2015 nuclear deal, which Biden will attempt to revive after he takes office.
  • He also has experience dealing with Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has grown more aggressive in his foreign policy over the last decade, and told Axios in November: "We’re going to be operating within a pretty narrow band of possibilities in dealing with Vladimir Putin’s Russia — from the sharply competitive to the pretty nastily adversarial."

The big picture: At an Axios event in September, Burns said the U.S. should carve out a new role for itself on the global stage — neither isolationist nor swaggering superpower.

  • "Recognizing and deepening that connection between foreign policy and domestic renewal, I think, is going to be the single deepest challenge for several administrations to come," Burns said.

What they're saying: "Bill Burns is an exemplary diplomat with decades of experience on the world stage keeping our people and our country safe and secure," Biden said in a statement.

  • "He shares my profound belief that intelligence must be apolitical and that the dedicated intelligence professionals serving our nation deserve our gratitude and respect."

Go deeper

Senate confirms Antony Blinken as secretary of state

Antony Blinken. Photo: Alex Edelman/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

The Senate voted 78-22 on Tuesday to confirm Antony Blinken as secretary of state.

Why it matters: Blinken, a longtime adviser to President Biden, will lead the administration's diplomatic efforts to re-engage with the world after four years of former President Trump's "America first" policy.

Dave Lawler, author of World
Jan 27, 2021 - World

At Davos, Putin points to U.S. to warn Big Tech is driving social divisions

Photo: Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images

Russian President Vladimir Putin told the virtual “Davos Agenda” conference on Wednesday that recent events in the U.S. had underscored the danger of “public discontent” combined with “modern technology.”

The big picture: Putin, a late addition to the speakers' list, is facing protests at home over the arrest of opposition figure Alexey Navalny. Several experts and activists criticized the World Economic Forum for inviting him, with chess champion and Kremlin critic Garry Kasparov tweeting that Putin’s appearance showed he was “desperate to reassure his cronies he's still acceptable in the West despite his brutal crackdown.”

Updated 21 mins ago - World

Myanmar military fires UN ambassador after anti-coup speech

Photo: Peerapon Boonyakiat/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Myanmar's military regime on Saturday fired the country's ambassador to the United Nations, Kyaw Moe Tun, a day after he gave a pro-democracy speech asking UN member nations to publicly condemn the Feb. 1 coup, The New York Times reports.

The latest: Kyaw Moe Tun told Reuters later on Saturday, "I decided to fight back as long as I can."