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U.S. Department of State - Great Seal

U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action

Sidebar on Duties of the Secretary of State


Bureau of the Comptroller and Global Financial Services
Report
November 16, 2012

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Under the Constitution, the President of the United States determines U.S. foreign policy. The Secretary of State, appointed by the President with the advice and consent of the Senate, is the President's chief foreign affairs adviser. The Secretary carries out the President's foreign policies through the State Department and the Foreign Service of the United States.

Created in 1789 by the Congress as the successor to the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Department of State is the senior executive Department of the U.S. Government. The Secretary of State's duties relating to foreign affairs include the following:

  • Serves as the President's principal adviser on U.S. foreign policy;
  • Conducts negotiations relating to U.S. foreign affairs;
  • Grants and issues passports to American citizens and exequaturs to foreign consuls in the United States;
  • Advises the President on the appointment of U.S. ambassadors, ministers, consuls, and other diplomatic representatives;
  • Negotiates, interprets, and terminates treaties and agreements;
  • Ensures U.S. Government protection of American citizens, property, and interests in foreign countries;
  • Supervises the administration of U.S. immigration laws abroad;
  • Provides information to Congress and American citizens regarding the political, economic, social, cultural, and humanitarian conditions in foreign countries; and
  • Administers the Department of State and supervises the Foreign Service.

In addition, the Secretary of State retains domestic responsibilities that Congress entrusted to the State Department upon its creation. These responsibilities include the custody of the Great Seal of the United States, the preparation of certain presidential proclamations, and the custody of certain original treaties and international agreements.

 




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