US Envoy to UN Gets Russia Red Carpet 02/25 06:09
UNITED NATIONS (AP) -- Linda Thomas-Greenfield takes up her post as U.S.
ambassador to the United Nations on Thursday and a senior Russian diplomat said
the red carpet will be rolled out and Moscow is ready to work with the Biden
administration -- but "it takes two to tango."
After being sworn in on Wednesday by Vice President Kamala Harris,
Thomas-Greenfield headed to New York where she is scheduled to present her
credentials to U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres Thursday afternoon.
She will be jumping right into her new job, tackling global peace and
security issues with Russia, China and a dozen other countries because the
United States takes over the rotating presidency of the powerful U.N. Security
Council on Monday. And she might even decide to attend a council meeting on
"We are looking forward to interactions with her," Russia's Deputy U.N.
Ambassador Dmitry Polyansky told a group of reporters Wednesday. "You can count
on our most favorable attitudes and positive emotions towards her as a member
of our Security Council family."
Noting Thomas-Greenfield's decades as a U.S. diplomat, he said "it's always
easier to interact with professionals."
But he said America's view that Russia is "an enemy" and a "threat" hasn't
changed under Biden, so "it's very difficult to imagine how the interaction
with us might change with such starting points of the positions of the new
Nonetheless, Polyansky said, "there are a lot of things Russia and the
United States can do together" and "we will judge the new administration by
what it does."
"We're in favor of cooperation," he said. But "it takes two to tango, and
really we're ready to dance, but we need a good and reliable partner who knows
all the moves and who respects us" as a country with certain positions,
"doesn't view us as a threat" and sees "our obvious national interests in many
Thomas-Greenfield, a retired 35-year veteran of the U.S. foreign service who
rose to be assistant secretary of state for Africa, resigned during the Trump
administration. She will be the third African-American, and the second
African-American woman, to hold the U.N. post.
Her confirmation on Tuesday was hailed by Democrats and advocates of the
United Nations who had lamented former President Donald Trump's "America First"
unilateral approach to international affairs and rejoiced at President Joe
Biden's return to multilateralism.
At the Senate hearing on her nomination, Thomas-Greenfield called China "a
strategic adversary" that threatens the world, and called a speech she gave in
2019 that praised China's initiatives in Africa but made no mention of its
human rights abuses a mistake.
The Senate voted 78-20 to confirm her with Republican opponents saying she
was soft on China and would not stand up for U.S. principles at the U.N.
Thomas-Greenfield said at the hearing that Washington will be working not
only with allies "but to see where we can find common ground with the Russians
and the Chinese to put more pressure on the Iranians to push them back into
strict compliance" with the 2015 agreement to rein in their nuclear program.
Trump pulled the U.S. out of the agreement in 2018 and Biden has indicated the
U.S. will rejoin it, though how that might happen remains a major question.
Polyansky said Russia welcomes the ""positive developments" on the Iran
nuclear deal and the U.S. agreement to extend the START nuclear agreement,
adding that Moscow is ready for serious and meaningful discussions "first and
foremost in the area of strategic stability."
Thomas-Greenfield stressed at the hearing that the U.S. will be reengaging
internationally and promoting American values -- "support for democracy,
respect for universal human rights, and the promotion of peace and security."
Louis Charbonneau, United Nations director for Human Rights Watch, told The
Associated Press that Thomas-Greenfield should promote human rights as "a top
"She should abandon the Trump administration's selective approach to human
rights -- enthusiastically condemning its enemies' abuses while ignoring rights
violations of allies like Israel and Saudi Arabia," he said.
"But there's room for continuity on China and Syria," Charbonneau said. "She
should make expanding the coalition of nations willing to speak out against
Beijing's human rights abuses one of her chief goals at the U.N., above trying
to bring African, Asian, and Latin American states into the fold. And she
should continue to push for expanded humanitarian access to all parts of Syria."