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Secretary of State Antony Blinken unveiled a modernization plan for the State Department Wednesday, with an emphasis on improving the State Department’s expertise and performance in climate, global health, cybersecurity and emerging technologies, economics and multilateral diplomacy.
Watch Blinken’s remarks in the player above.
“This isn’t just a new list of priorities by a new administration. It reflects a significant reorientation of U.S. foreign policy that focuses on the forces that most directly and consequently affect Americans’ lives, livelihoods and security,” Blinken said in a speech at the State Department’s Foreign Service Institute.
Blinken has plans to create a new cyberspace and digital policy bureau, and boost expertise in emerging technologies in the foreign service. He also wants Congress to approve a 50 percent increase in the State Department’s IT budget.
“We want to shape the standards that govern new technology so they ensure quality, protect consumer health and safety, facilitate trade, respect people’s rights,” Blinken said.
“We want to make sure the technology works for democracy, fighting back against disinformation, standing up for internet freedom, reducing the misuse of surveillance technology,” he said.
WATCH: What’s at stake at the upcoming world climate conference
Blinken also highlighted modernization efforts in other areas, including building a more diverse workforce; promoting new policy ideas, respecting dissent among employees, and engaging in multilateral institutions.
“We’ve created a new office within the International Organizations Bureau with a single mandate, to ensure that we and our closest partners can win elections to lead institutions, be appointed to key bodies, serve in key positions across the United Nations, and push back against those looking to undermine the integrity of the international system that we helped to build, to shape and to lead,” he said.
Blinken also said the State Department would conduct a review of the department’s handling of the U.S. evacuation and relocation effort, as it relates to Afghanistan.
“We owe it to ourselves, to our Afghan friends and partners, to the future State Department employees who might find themselves facing a similar challenge one day,” Blinken said.
“We will not let this opportunity to learn and do better pass us by,” he said.
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