Joe Biden nominates Los Angeles Mayor Garcetti as Ambassador to India

If confirmed by the Senate, Mr. Garcetti, 50, would replace Kenneth Juster.

July 10, 2021 01:13 am | Updated November 22, 2021 10:06 pm IST - Washington

U.S. President Joe Biden on July 9, 2021 nominated Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti as his ambassador to India. File

U.S. President Joe Biden on July 9, 2021 nominated Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti as his ambassador to India. File

U.S. President Joe Biden, on Friday, nominated Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti to the post of Ambassador to India. Mr Garcetti’s nomination,  which had been expected for weeks , was announced by the White House as part of a set of ambassadorial nominations. 

Mr Garcetti, 50, who has been mayor of Los Angeles since 2013, is  a former intelligence officer from the U.S. Navy and a Rhodes Scholar. He also served on the California board of Human Rights Watch, a rights advocacy organisation that has frequently criticized the Indian government’s rights record.

Mr Garcetti released a statement saying he was honoured to accept the nomination and would “forge partnerships and connections that will help strengthen Los Angeles’ place on the world stage.” If confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Mr Garcetti will replace Kenneth Juster, a Trump appointee who was Ambassador to India  until January. The U.S. Embassy in New Delhi is currently being run by interim Chargé d'affaires Atul Keshap, a South Asia hand and senior career diplomat.

Mr Garcetti’s  closeness to Mr Biden is seen as a key factor in his  nomination. Having someone in New Delhi who “can call Joe” is  important to both New Delhi and Washington.

“We are excited that President Biden has nominated a reputed leader who has proven himself on several fronts,” said M.R Rangaswami, a Silicon Valley-based investor, who runs a diaspora organisation called Indiaspora.  “It speaks volumes to the importance of the U.S.-India relationship that a close and trusted ally of President Biden may be America’s point person in Delhi.”

The India- U.S. relationship has strong support on both sides of the aisle in Washington, although it is not without its critics, particularly with regard to the Modi government’s record on democratic processes and minority rights.  As India experienced its second wave of COVID-19 earlier this summer, the U.S. government, private sector and individuals contributed over $ 500 million in assistance according to U.S. government estimates. The defence and security dimensions of the relationship have also been growing. While bilateral trade has been growing between the two countries, the trading relationship has had challenges, especially around data flows, agricultural commodities and preferential trade status for India.

The two countries have sought to develop their relationship via multilateral forums (such as the United Nations Security Council) as well as smaller ‘plurilateral’ groupings such as the Quad – India, the U.S., Japan and Australia. Plans are in the works for a summit level in-person meeting of the Quad - likely to be held in Washington this autumn.

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