The US State Department has appointed Atul Keshap, a senior foreign service officer with years of experience in South Asia, as India’s Charge’d Affairs in Delhi, replacing Daniel Smith.
In a statement issued on June 29, the administration said, “Ambassador Keshap’s appointment will strengthen the close US partnership with the Government and people of India, demonstrated by our collaboration to overcome a global challenge like the Covid-19 pandemic.”
“Short-and mid-term vaccine access for India, US assistance to India as it has been recovering from a second wave of Covid-19 and India’s manufacturing role in a Quad (India, the United States, Australia and Japan) plan to deliver at least 1 billion vaccines for Asia by the end of 2022 aiming to reinforce the relationship,” the statement said.
Although the Biden administration has sent various ambassadorial nominations to the Senate, its silence on the nomination of an ambassador to New Delhi has been conspicuous. “Keshap is eminently qualified, but what is the deal with the Garcetti ambassadorial appointment to India?” asked Paul Staniland, a political science professor from the university of Chicago, on Twitter.
The Indian-American career diplomat will depart for New Delhi Charge d’Affaires, ad interim.
According to the statement by the US State Department, “Keshap will add a wealth of experience to the role, serving previously at US Embassy New Delhi and as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia.”
Keshap, 50, recently served as the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs and as the United States Ambassador to Sri Lanka and the Maldives.