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By Dr. Shirin Abbas from Delhi, Shafaat Khan from Washington DC, TIO: India is all set to welcome a new incumbent as Indian Ambassador to the United States, Mr. Taranjit Singh Sandhu, a 1988-batch Indian Foreign Service officer, who was till now posted as High Commissioner of India in Sri Lanka.
Mr. Sandhu succeeds Mr. Harsh Vardhan Shringla, who will now take over charge as the Foreign Secretary on Wednesday.
It is to be noted that the appointment of Mr. Sandhu’s coincides with the expected visit of President Donald Trump to India. Now present as a top Indian diplomat in Washington D.C., Mr. Sandhu will also be dealing with ongoing Congressional hearings regarding India’s controversial Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019 (CAA). Another issue of priority on his agenda will be negotiations with the U.S. authorities on the matter of H1B visas and see that they are not curtailed.
Before taking on his US assignment as Indian envoy, Mr. Sandhu presided over arrangements for Sri Lankan Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa’s February visit to Delhi
Mr. Sandhu’s has been appreciated for his sincere efforts in Colombo and is considered a rather successful and popular diplomat by politicians of all hues. He enjoys a deep friendship with many prominent Sri Lankan citizens in his seven years on the island, on two postings. He also served as head of the political wing from 2000 to 2004.
On Monday, a farewell dinner was organized in his honor at India House in Colombo on Monday. The largely attended event bore testimony to the many friendships and professional relationships Mr. Sandhu had built and maintained over the years. Monday’s farewell event saw virtually all top politicians across political parties, including some with competing interests and known rivalries, seated together with Mr. Sandhu. President Gotabaya Rajapaksa was among the early guests — hours before leaving for Singapore on a private visit — while his brother and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa was present for the entire evening, with his family.
The crucial appointment has come on a day when Foreign Secretary Vijay Keshav Gokhale retired after distinguished service. External Affairs Minister Dr. S. Jaishankar conveyed his best wishes to the official and acknowledged his contributions to Indian diplomacy.
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