U.S. President-elect Joe Biden says he has chosen veteran diplomat William Burns, who once served as ambassador to Russia, to be the new director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
“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 on January 11.
“He shares my profound belief that intelligence must be apolitical and that the dedicated intelligence professionals serving our nation deserve our gratitude and respect. Ambassador Burns will bring the knowledge, judgment, and perspective we need to prevent and confront threats before they can reach our shores. The American people will sleep soundly with him as our next CIA Director.”
In his 33-year diplomatic career, Burns was also the U.S. ambassador to Jordan and a lead negotiator in the secret talks that paved the way to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal under former Democratic President Barack Obama. Burns has said he would restore the nuclear deal with other major global powers that Trump pulled the United States out of in 2018.
The 64-year-old diplomat is currently the president of the international affairs think tank the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and has written articles critical of President Donald Trump’s administration.
Biden’s pick to lead the CIA comes as he races to get a national security team into place after the transition was delayed by outgoing President Trump contesting Biden’s November election victory.