Navtej Sarna likely to be India’s next Envoy to the US

Three diplomats -Navtej Sarna (left), Pankaj Saran (center), Navdeep Suri (right) - are believed to be in the run for Washington posting.
Three diplomats -Navtej Sarna (left), Pankaj Saran (center), Navdeep Suri (right) - are believed to be in the run for Washington posting.

NEW DELHI (TIP): The race for the next Indian ambassador to the US has started in earnest. Arun Singh, the current Indian envoy to the US, is set to retire by August-end and the government is mulling its options on the next person to head its mission in Washington DC.

Though there are three diplomats believed to be in the run for posting in Washington, India’s High Commissioner to UK Navtej Sarna is favored to head for Washington as Ambassador to the US, considered a high-profile posting. The other two are Pankaj Saran, India’s Ambassador to Russia, and Navdeep Suri, Indian High Commissioner to Australia.

It is learnt the India’s High Commissioner to Sri Lanka Yashvardhan Kumar Sinha may replace Mr. Sarna in the UK.

Mr. Sarna, an Indian Foreign Service (IFS) officer of the 1980 batch, was serving as Secretary (West) in the Ministry of External Affairs before he was posted to London in January.

The 59-year-old diplomat was among the longest-serving spokespersons of the MEA. He had held the post between 2002 and 2008.

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Mr. Sarna is likely to take up the new assignment in the midst of the high-voltage presidential campaign in the US and his main task will be to ensure continuity in Indo-US relations when a new dispensation takes charge in Washington.

Mr. Sarna is an author of many fiction and non-fiction books, with the most recent being ‘Second Thoughts: On Books, Authors and the Writerly Life’ released last year. He was also India’s Ambassador to Israel from 2008 to 2012.

For two years from August 2012, Mr. Sarna had served as additional secretary in-charge of international organizations in the MEA.

Mr. Sarna had served at various Indian missions, including in Moscow, Warsaw, Tehran, Geneva, Thimphu and Washington.

Mr. Sinha, tipped to be Indian High Commissioner to the UK, is a seasoned diplomat and, in his career spanning 35 years, he has handled several important assignments at the MEA and in Indian diplomatic missions in South Asia, the Middle East, Europe and South America.

Taranjit Sandhu, who is India’s deputy chief of mission in Washington, is headed to Sri Lanka as the new High Commissioner. Mr. Sandhu’s position is likely to be taken up by Santosh Jha, Joint Secretary (policy planning) in the Ministry.

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