Taranjit Singh Sandhu appointed India’s Ambassador to US

Taranjit Singh Sandhu. File  

Senior diplomat Taranjit Singh Sandhu will be the next Indian Ambassador to the United States. Mr. Sandhu, a 1988 batch officer of the Indian Foreign Service, is the current Indian envoy to Sri Lanka and will succeed Harsh Vardhan Shringla, who will take charge as the Foreign Secretary on Wednesday.

Mr. Sandhu’s appointment comes days before the expected visit of President Donald Trump to India. As the top Indian diplomat in Washington D.C., he has to deal with the ongoing Congressional hearings regarding India’s controversial Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019 (CAA). The other issue on the agenda will be to negotiate with the U.S. authorities, so that the number of H1B visas are not curtailed.

Before flying to Washington, Mr. Sandhu will have to oversee the February visit to Delhi by Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa of Sri Lanka. Mr. Sandhu’s stint in Colombo is considered rather successful by politicians of all hues, and citizens with whom he forged deep friendships in his seven years in the island, on two postings. He served as head of the political wing from 2000 to 2004.

The farewell dinner organised at India House in Colombo on Monday was testimony to the many friendships and professional relationships he had built and maintained over the years.

While it is not uncommon for Sri Lankan leaders in high office to attend events organised by the Indian mission in Colombo, 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 came 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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An earlier version of this copy referred to Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa as the President instead of the Prime Minister. The error is regretted.

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Printable version | Oct 26, 2021 3:14:28 AM |

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