Anand Sharma among front-runners to succeed Ronen Sen?

February 15th, 2008 - 8:15 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Sonia Gandhi

New Delhi, Feb 15 (IANS) Minister of State for External Affairs Anand Sharma and India’s envoy to Pakistan Satyabrata Pal are in the race to become the new ambassador to the US, according to a source with access to the highest levels of decision making. The ambassadorial post is to fall vacant as Ronen Sen’s tenure is set to end at the end of March. The government is expected to take a decision on his successor next month.

While diplomats are rooting for Pal, a 1972 Indian Foreign Service (IFS) officer, Sharma is said to be keen to bag the post, the senior ministerial source told IANS on the condition of anonymity.

The ambassador to the US has traditionally been seen as a political appointment and carries the rank of a cabinet minister.

Sharma could not be reached for comment. Messages left at his office were not returned.

According to the minister, the matter will come up for serious discussion when External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee returns from his tour of South Africa and Brazil that began Friday.

Former foreign secretary Shyam Saran was earlier hotly tipped to succeed Sen since he retired from the foreign service and became the special envoy to the prime minister. He has played an important role in negotiating the Indo-US nuclear deal.

Ronen Sen had retired from the foreign service when he was appointed the envoy to the US in 2004. He is known to enjoy a good rapport with Congress president Sonia Gandhi since the time he served in the Rajiv Gandhi PMO in the late eighties.

Sen was preceded by retired foreign secretary Lalit Mansingh. Former cabinet secretary Naresh Chandra, Congress leader Siddharth Shankar Ray, Abid Hussain, Karan Singh, Nani Palkhivala and Vijaylakshmi Pandit were among those who have served in Washington as India’s envoy.

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