Obama’s envoy to India gets Senate nod

March 31st, 2012 - 10:11 am ICT by IANS  

Barack Obama Washington, March 31 (IANS) A day after the US expressed concern over non-confirmation of President Barack Obama’s new ambassador to India due to election year politics, the Senate approved career diplomat Nancy Powell’s appointment.

South Asia veteran Powell, who had been cooling her heels in Washington since mid December when she was named to take up the New Delhi post lying vacant for nearly a year, was confirmed with ambassadors to 15 other countries.

Obama’s first ambassador to India, former congressman Timothy Roemer, announced his resignation in April 2011.

The Senate nod to Powell and other Obama nominees came late Thursday overcoming a political impasse as opposition Republicans, angry with the President for allegedly ignoring Congress, had blocked hundreds of appointments requiring the upper chamber’s approval.

Senate confirmation paves the way for Powell, who has worked in New Delhi, Kolkata, Dhaka and Islamabad and Kathmandu, in the last two posts as ambassador, to take up her new job ahead of the next round of the India-US strategic dialogue here in mid June.

Meanwhile, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy R. Sherman is travelling to India April 1 to to discuss preparations for the US-India Strategic Dialogue with Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai and other senior Indian officials. She will also hold meetings with figures from Indian civil society, higher education, political opposition and youth
organizations. She will then travel to Patna on April 3, where she will meet with local officials.

Powell, who holds the rank of career ambassador, a prestigious title given only to select career diplomats based on their service, joined the foreign service in 1977.

She has also served as the National Intelligence Officer for South Asia at the National Intelligence Council. Her stint in Pakistan between 2002-2004 came as the US was first seeking Islamabad’s cooperation in fighting Al Qaeda and the Taliban after the Sep 11, 2001 terror attacks.

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at arun.kumar@ians.in)

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