Blinken holds first calls as Biden’s secretary of State
Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with his Canadian, Korean, Japanese and Mexican counterparts over the phone Tuesday, his first conversations with foreign dignitaries since he was confirmed to his office Tuesday.
The State Department said in a readout that Blinken and Canadian Foreign Minister Marc Garneau discussed “the close partnership between the United States and Canada on a wide array of issues.”
Blinken “said that he looks forward to working closely with Canadian Foreign Minister Garneau to revitalize our economies and strengthen the broader North American partnership and to address shared challenges, including COVID-19 and climate change, among many others,” according to the readout.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was Biden’s first call with a foreign leader.
Blinken also spoke with South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha, during which the two diplomats “affirmed the enduring strength and importance of the U.S.-ROK Alliance, the linchpin of peace, security, and prosperity for a free and open Indo-Pacific region and across the world,” the readout said, using the acronym for the Republic of Korea.
“Secretary Blinken highlighted the importance of continued trilateral U.S.-ROK-Japan cooperation, underscored the continued need for the denuclearization of North Korea, and stressed President Biden’s commitment to strengthening U.S. alliances.”
The State Department also said Blinken and Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi “affirmed that the U.S.-Japan Alliance is the cornerstone of peace, security, and prosperity for a free and open Indo-Pacific region and across the globe” and that Blinken and Mexican Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard “emphasized our shared interest in security and economic integration, as well as our focus on an orderly and humane approach to migration.”
Biden has repeatedly said he will put a priority on bolstering relationships with foreign nations that were hampered during the Trump administration.
Each of the four diplomats Blinken spoke with Tuesday represented countries that butted heads with former President Trump. Canada and Mexico were on the receiving end of tariffs from Washington, and the Trump administration berated Mexico over its immigration policies. Meanwhile, Trump also railed against the U.S.’s trade relationship with Japan and moved to cancel joint military exercises with South Korea.
The secretary of State was the fourth Cabinet official to be confirmed in the Biden administration, following Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen.