Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs

Under Secretary Of State For Political Affairs

Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs

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The Under Secretary for Political Affairs is the third ranking position in the United States Department of State, after the Secretary and the Deputy Secretaries. While the positions of Secretary and Deputy Secretary are occupied by political appointees, the position of Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs is usually (but not always) occupied by a career Foreign Service Officer, making the occupant the highest ranking member of the Foreign Service. The current Under Secretary is William Joseph Burns.

The Under Secretary serves as the day-to-day manager of overall regional and bilateral policy issues, and oversees the bureaus for Africa, East Asia and the Pacific, Europe and Eurasia, the Near East, South Asia, the Western Hemisphere, International Organizations, and International Narcotics and Law Enforcement. The Under Secretary is advised by Assistant Secretaries of the geographic bureaus, who guide U.S. diplomatic missions within their regional jurisdiction.

The political bureaus were first overseen in 1949 by a Deputy Under Secretary for Political Affairs. Prior to the creation of the position of Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs in August 1959, the Deputy Under Secretary for Political Affairs assisted the Secretary and Under Secretary of State in the formulation and conduct of U.S. foreign policy. After August 1959, the Deputy Under Secretary for Political Affairs served as a focal point for interdepartmental relations,...
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