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STORY BY NATASHA BERTRAND AND NAHAL TOOSI

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Joe Biden's America John Kerry
Published on December 8, 2020 3:25 AM

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John Kerry is reporting for duty as Joe Biden’s climate envoy, and the exact parameters of his new role remain undefined. | Mark Makela/Getty Images
He's been a national figure since his days as a Vietnam vet protesting the war. He carried his party's banner in 2004. And as secretary of State, he negotiated a major nuclear deal involving the world's most powerful countries.

Now John Kerry is reporting for duty as Joe Biden's climate envoy, and the exact parameters of his new role remain undefined, raising concerns that he might create confusion and complicate the Biden administration's diplomatic lines of effort.

In particular, it's not clear how Kerry's job will mesh with the activities of his former deputy, incoming Secretary of State Antony Blinken — who now technically outranks his old boss — and what role he'll play on the National Security Council, where he's expected to attend every top meeting and will likely enjoy direct access to Biden, his longtime Senate colleague and peer.

Kerry's large personality and "maniacal" pursuit of diplomatic wins, as two former colleagues described it, has consequently raised questions in Biden's orbit about whether the 76-year-old statesman might overshadow other key figures, including Blinken, who has a quieter and more understated temperament, according to those who know him.