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Former State Dept. deputy Bill Burns to head Carnegie Endowment

President Obama lunched with Bill Burns in the Oval Office in February. (White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Bill Burns, after twice being talked out of retirement, officially stepped down from his post as the State Department’s number two guy last week and was quickly swooped up by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

The prominent global research think tank announced Burns as its new president Wednesday, effective Feb. 4. He will replace Jessica Tuchman Mathews, who held the job for 18 years.

“I am delighted to be coming to Carnegie and honored to follow in the footsteps of Jessica Mathews,” Burns said in a statement released by Carnegie. “Since announcing my retirement from the State Department in April, I have thought long and hard about what I wanted to do next. And I believe that Carnegie, with its five centers around the world and superb staff and scholars, offers an extraordinary opportunity to be able to continue to play an important and constructive role in global affairs from outside government service.”

When Burns announced in April his retirement from State after more than three decades in the foreign service, Secretary John Kerry said he was among “the short list of American diplomatic legends.”

A replacement for Burns at State has not been named, but the buzz is that undersecretary for political affairs Wendy Sherman could be promoted, or White House deputy national security adviser Tony Blinken could make the move to Foggy Bottom.