United States Ambassador to India Timothy Roemer on Thursday announced his resignation citing prior personal and professional commitments.
However, the announcement coincided with Mr. Roemer expressing dissatisfaction with the selection process for a mega Indian Air Force tender for fighter planes in which both the U.S. contenders have been virtually knocked out of the race along with Russian and Swedish companies.
Mr. Roemer had already raised the hackles last month in South Block, which houses both the Defence and External Affairs Ministries, after he linked the future of India-U.S. ties with a favourable decision in the $10 billion tender. While India had invited U.S. company Lockheed Martin (F-16) to participate in the tender, Washington had persuaded South Block to include Boeing (F\A-18).
Mr. Roemer was among the first Democrat politicians from Indiana to have supported Barack Obama's bid for U.S. Presidency, and his nomination as Ambassador to India is believed to be the reward for his steadfastness amidst reports that he was tipped to head the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency.
A straight-talking Ambassador whose preferred mode of communication was in aphorisms and clichés, Mr. Roemer was fonder than most of his predecessors in staging interactions with the “real India” — from rickshaw-pullers to indigent pavement-dwellers. “Whether I was playing basketball with Muslim girls in Lucknow, seeing a majestic tiger in Ranthambore or observing the ‘aarti' on the banks of the mighty Ganga in Varanasi, I personally viewed how common values and interests bind our two great democracies,” he said.
In fact, during his latest engagement of this nature on Tuesday, Mr. Roemer went about business as usual and gave no inkling of his intention to lay down office after two years as has been stated in the U.S. Embassy news release: “When I accepted this job two years ago, I told President [Barack] Obama that I would serve for two years, but that family considerations would be front and centre after that.”
The Ambassador said his two sons would be leaving for college in the next 14 months and he would like his parents and in-laws to be able to spend more time with his children.
He also said he had accomplished his strategic objectives set two years ago. “U.S.-India relationship, what my friend President Obama calls the defining partnership of the 21st century, has progressed to the global stage. I am very proud to have led the team responsible for deepening and broadening the strategic partnership of this critical bilateral relationship, which is one of the cornerstones of our foreign policy.”
“For me and for my entire family, the past two years have been a time of incredible experiences, warm friendships, and meaningful partnerships,” he added.
Recalling Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's Washington visit in 2009 and Mr. Obama's trip to India, which was a part of a four-nation tour, the Ambassador noted Mr. Obama's commitment to support India for a permanent United Nations Security Council seat and removal of nine Indian companies from the Entities List as some landmark achievements.
Mr. Roemer noted that during his tenure as ambassador, the U.S.-India defence partnership has “expanded exponentially.”