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Jaishankar slams Pompeo for ‘disrespectful’ comments on Sushma Swaraj

In his latest book, former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he never saw his Indian counterpart Sushma Swaraj as an “important political player”

January 25, 2023 05:00 pm | Updated January 26, 2023 10:38 am IST

File picture of former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo with India’s former Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj

File picture of former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo with India’s former Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj | Photo Credit: Reuters

External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar has expressed his displeasure over the comments on his predecessor, Sushma Swaraj, made by former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in the latter’s new bookNever Give an Inch: Fighting for the America I Love.

“On the Indian side, my original counterpart was not an important player on the Indian foreign policy team. Instead, I worked much more closely with National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, a close and trusted confidant of Prime Minister Narendra Modi,” 59-year-old Pompeo writes in his book.

Mr. Pompeo added that Mr. Jaishankar “could see why I had trouble with his predecessor, a goofball and a heartland political hack”.

Commenting on Pompeo’s claims, Mr. Jaishankar told PTI, “I have seen a passage in Secretary Pompeo’s book referring to Sushma Swaraj ji. I always held her in great esteem and had an exceptionally close and warm relationship with her. I deplore the disrespectful colloquialism used for her.”

Mr. Jaishankar’s response came despite Mr. Pompeo’s praise for him. “I could not have asked for a better counterpart,” Mr. Pompeo wrote of Mr. Jaishankar. “I love this guy. English is one of the seven languages he speaks, and his is somewhat better than mine.”

The former U.S. diplomat described Mr. Jaishankar as “professional, rational, and a fierce defender of his boss and his country”.

Never Give an Inch, Mr. Pompeo’s book of his time serving in Donald Trump’s administration, was released on Tuesday.

The book describes Mr. Pompeo’s time as CIA director and secretary of state under Trump. It is one of many books from possible candidates for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination.

Mr. Pompeo has claimed that he was once “awakened” to speak to Swaraj who told him that Pakistan was preparing for a nuclear attack after the Balakot surgical strike in February 2019 and India is preparing its own escalatory response.

“I do not think the world properly knows just how close the India-Pakistan rivalry came to spilling over into a nuclear conflagration in February 2019. The truth is, I don’t know precisely the answer either; I just know it was too close,” he writes.

In the book, Mr. Pompeo also criticised the “faux outrage” caused by the killing of Jamal Khashoggi that “got the media madder than a vegan in a butcher” and claims that Khashoggi was not a journalist but rather “an activist who had supported the losing team.”

(With inputs from PTI)

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