Biden likely to tap Burns for China ambassador; Nides for Israel

President Biden is expected to tap career diplomat Nicholas Burns as his ambassador to China when he rolls out his first wave of major ambassador nominations in the coming days, a source familiar with the pick confirmed.

A second source confirmed Biden will likely nominate Tom Nides, a former Obama administration official, to serve as ambassador to Israel. 

The two high-profile picks are expected to be announced over the next several days, along with the choice of former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel to serve as ambassador to Japan. Eric Garcetti, the mayor of Los Angeles, will reportedly be nominated as ambassador to India, according to multiple reports.

The first major batch of nominees comes as Biden faces a host of foreign policy issues in the Middle East and Asia.

Burns will be tasked with managing the Biden administration’s relationship with China, which Biden has frequently warned poses a major economic threat to the United States. Burns will also have to deal with China’s aggression in the South China Sea and its influence more broadly in the region in crises in Myanmar and Hong Kong.

The president’s call on Wednesday for an intelligence community report on the origins of the coronavirus in China is likely to add friction to the relationship.

Nides, meanwhile, would head to Israel at a time when tensions are bubbling over in the Middle East.

Israel and Hamas reached a cease-fire last week after days of fighting that left hundreds of Palestinians and dozens of Israelis dead or injured.

The ambassador would also have to balance the U.S.-Israel alliance as the Biden administration negotiates with Iran over a potential new nuclear agreement.

The reported choice of Garcetti as ambassador for India would place the Los Angeles mayor as the envoy to Asia’s largest democracy at a time when it is grappling with a major coronavirus outbreak.

The Hill previously reported Emanuel would be Biden’s pick for Japan.

Amie Parnes contributed.

Tags China Eric Garcetti Israel Japan Joe Biden nicholas burns Rahm Emanuel Tom Nides

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