Washington: An influential US lawmaker has urged President Donald Trump to appoint America's new ambassador to India on a priority basis, saying that
Washington's relation with New Delhi is of utmost importance.
The position has been lying vacant since January 20 when Trump was sworn in as the 45th President of the United States. In June, the White House said that Kenneth I Juster, 62, a top economic aide of Trump and an expert on India, will be America's new ambassador to India.
"As the co-founder and former chairman of the Congressional Caucus on India, Indian issues and representing one of the largest Indian-American constituencies in Congress, the relationship between our two great nations is of the utmost importance to me and my constituencies. I urge you to make the appointment of a US ambassador to India a top priority of your administration," Congressman Frank Pallone said in a letter to Trump.
The letter to Trump dated August 22 was posted by Pallone on twitter. "After more than seven months in office, this critical appointment is long overdue and should be an immediate priority," Pallone said a day after Trump sought India's increasing role in Afghanistan.
India is "our strongest ally" in South Asia, "which you referred in your address" to the nation on Monday, he said. "These are among the reasons the United States has long supported India's permanent membership on the United Nations Security Council. It is in our immediate national interest to send an accomplished American to serve as our country's senior diplomat in India," Pallone said.
The White House refrained from responding to questions on delay in ambassadorial appointment to India. However, without mentioning India, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson refuted the reports that the absence of officials at key position is having an impact on the efficiency of the State Department.
"In terms of our footprint on the ground, we have very competent, capable, experienced people there now," Tillerson told reporters at a news conference. "Do you have enough people, given the fact that there are not Trump-confirmed diplomatic appointees in many of these positions in the region," he was asked.
"We are looking at a couple of different people for the special representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan position. It is open currently; it is being filled with a very experienced individual today. So we are ready to get going with very competent people we have, and I am not at all concerned about the competency level or the experience of the people that we have working on this. I am quite confident with them," Tillerson added.