Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs

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The Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs is the senior position, in the United States Department of State, reserved for a career Foreign Service Officer, and the third-ranking position in the Department. He or she is the day-to-day manager of the regional and bilateral policy issues, and oversees the geographic bureaus for Africa, East Asia and the Pacific, European and Eurasia, the Near East, South and Central Asia, the Western Hemisphere. Each geographic bureau is headed by an Assistant Secretary.

There are two functional bureaus. The Bureau of International Organization Affairs (IO) develops and implements the policies of the U.S. Government within the United Nations and its affiliated agencies, as well as within certain other international organizations. The IO Bureau engages in what is known as multilateral diplomacy to promote and defend the many overlapping interests of the American people. The IO Bureau also promotes effective and efficient management within international organizations.

The Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) advises the U.S. Government on the development of policies and programs to combat international narcotics and crime. INL programs support the Department's strategic goals of reducing the entry of illegal drugs into the United States and minimizing the impact of international crime on the United States and its citizens. Counternarcotics and anticrime programs also complement the war on terrorism by supporting foreign criminal justice systems and law enforcement agencies charged with the counter-terrorism mission.

William J. Burns is the incumbent Undersecretary.