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India mulls over appointment of next envoy to the US

Speculation about potential candidates has been circulating for months, with the chief contender being Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra, set to conclude his term on April 30, 2024.

The post has been left vacant following the retirement of Taranjit Singh Sandhu, who concluded his distinguished 35-year career on January 31.  / indianembassyusa.gov.in

The government in New Delhi is yet to name a diplomat to take over the important post of Ambassador to the United States.

The post has been left vacant following the retirement of Taranjit Singh Sandhu, who concluded his distinguished 35-year career on January 31. 

The customary period between ambassadors may see an extension this time, as India strategically refrains from naming Sandhu's successor immediately, a departure from past practices where announcements typically coincided with the conclusion of the incumbent's term. 

Notably, the appointment of Harsh Vardhan Shringla as Indian Ambassador to the United States was announced in December 2019, just a month before his predecessor's retirement.

Speculation about potential candidates has been circulating for months, with the chief contender being Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra, set to conclude his term on April 30, 2024. This delay is buttressed by the presence of Sripriya Ranganathan, a senior IFS officer in Washington DC serving as the Chargé d’Affaires and having prior ambassadorial experience.

Deputy National Security Advisor Vikram Misri, a 1989 batch IFS officer, is another name in contention, but the focus on his possible appointment as the next foreign secretary adds an additional layer of complexity to the decision-making process for the new government.

India's relationship with the United States, described by External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar as India's "optimal choice" for a partner, requires meticulous navigation through a competitive Washington landscape and intricate ties with polarized US political institutions, especially in an election year.

The diplomatic scenario is further complicated by recent legal developments involving an Indian national, Nikhil Gupta, accused of plotting to murder a US-Canadian Sikh separatist. The situation awaits the results of an investigation by a high-level committee set up by India in response to US allegations.

Sandhu's tenure in Washington DC saw pivotal moments, including the successful state visit by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, deepening cooperation in critical technologies, and consensus-building during India's presidency of G20. The decision to extend Sandhu's term by a year underscores the significance attributed to the relationship with the United States during a critical period of international collaboration and strategic advancements.
 

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