India names new Envoys to US, Russia and China

NEW DELHI (TIP): India has named new envoys to three most important nations of the world. S Jaishankar, currently India’s ambassador to Beijing, is likely to be the new Indian envoy to Washington DC replacing Nirupama Rao, who will retire after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s last summit with US President Barack Obama scheduled for September end. Jaishankar is credited with shepherding the crucial diplomacy with China during the Depsang crisis in eastern Ladakh in April. At the end of a three-week standoff, China agreed to withdraw its troops from camps inside Indian soil after India took a tough stand against the incursion.

Jaishankar’s move to the US indicates the government’s decision to focus on the Indo-US relationship in view of the criticism that India has allowed the relationship to “drift”. Ashok Kantha, currently secretary (East) and formerly High Commissioner to Sri Lanka, will be the next ambassador to Beijing, replacing Jaishankar. Kantha is an old China hand, having handled the relationship as joint secretary (East Asia) in the ministry of external affairs.

He is expected to hit the ground running, and be a safe pair of hands for this particular relationship. PS Raghavan, who has recast India’s development aid program, will be India’s new man in Moscow, taking over from Ajai Malhotra. The India- Russia relationship has deep roots, but recent years have witnessed strains in the fabric of bilateral ties – from the price haggling over Gorshkov to the nuclear liability law and Russia’s diminishing position in the arms supplies pecking order. The relationship needs some nurturing. Raghavan, who has had a successful stint in the Prime Minister’s Office, is expected to do the job.

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