“My priorities are the government’s priorities. This is a big responsibility. I would say that I am very honoured that I have been assigned this responsibility. I look forward to working with all of you,” said Mr Jaishankar in his brief interaction with media after moving into his South Block office.
In a sudden move, the Narendra Modi government appointed Mr. Jaishankar, a former ambassador of India to the US, as India’s top diplomat.
Mr Jaishankar succeeds Sujatha Singh as her tenure was “curtailed”– six months early — on January 28 through an order issued by the Department of Personnel and Training. The appointment of Mr Jaishankar, a veteran Indian Foreign Service of 1977 batch, as foreign secretary has been made with a tenure of two years, from the date of assumption of charge or until further.
Son of strategic affairs doyen K Subrahmanyam, Mr Jaishankar has played a starring role in the transformation of the India-US relationship over the last few years. He played a key role in the negotiations relating to the early stages of the nuclear deal as joint secretary in charge of Americas in India’s external affairs ministry.
Under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, he poured his energy to turn around the Indo-US relationship — first by organising Mr Modi’s visit to Washington in September last year, and then executing his idea of inviting US President Barack Obama as the chief guest for the Republic Day celebrations, then first time an American president was invited for India’s national day.
Veteran diplomat also played an active role in defusing tensions between the two Asian giants in the Devyani Khobragade affair, which had adversely impacted ties in December 2013.
Mr. Jaishankar has a PhD in international relations from Jawaharlal Nehru University, where he specialised in nuclear diplomacy. He had previously served as India’s Ambassador to the United States (2014–15), China (2009–13) and the Czech Republic (2001–04), and as High Commissioner to Singapore (2007–09).
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