Clinton's New Deputy at State: Bill Burns. Jim Steinberg departs for Syracuse University

ABC News' Kirit Radia reports:

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced today that she’ll soon have a new deputy in Foggy Bottom. She announced in a letter to colleagues that her current deputy, James Steinberg, will soon depart to become the new Dean of Syracuse University’s Maxwell School, while Bill Burns, currently the Under Secretary for Political Affairs, will be nominated to take his place.

“Bill is one of our nation's most distinguished diplomats and most talented public servants,” Clinton wrote in her internal memo to department employees.

“If confirmed, he will bring incomparable depth and experience to the job, as well as important continuity during a time of change and upheaval in the world,” she said.

Steinberg had been considered President Obama’s close ally within Clinton’s State Department, yet the secretary praised his role over the past two years.

“He has been an invaluable friend and colleague -- a calm head during crises, a voice of reason and experience during policy debates, and always a consistent advocate for the women and men of the State Department and USAID,” she wrote.

Steinberg had been one of the Obama administration’s leading figures in managing its relations with China and East Asia.

“On every foreign policy challenge, big and small, he has helped formulate our policy and oversee its execution,” Clinton said.

Burns, the department’s top career foreign service officer, has been Clinton’s pointman on the Iran portfolio. A former ambassador to Russia, he’s also played a key role on nearly all foreign policy areas. Most recently he traveled to London with Clinton for yesterday’s Libya conference.

Steinberg’s departure means that Clinton has now lost both of her original deputies in the past year. Deputy Secretary for Management Jack Lew left last year to become President Obama’s OMB Director. He was replaced in that role by current Deputy Secretary for Management Tom Nides.

- Kirit Radia

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