Shringla would be captain of India-U.S. ties as Foreign Secretary: official

In his capacity as India’s foreign secretary, Harsh Vardhan Shringla would be the “captain of India-US relationship”, a top American diplomat has said at a farewell reception for the outgoing envoy.

Mr. Shringla, who has been appointed as India’s next foreign secretary, leaves Washington DC for India over the weekend to assume the responsibilities of his new assignment later this month.

A 1984-batch foreign service officer successfully served as India’s Ambassador to the US for about a year.

“We are delighted that Ambassador Shringla will be going on to become Foreign Secretary because in that position we know that we’re going to have a captain of the relationship and somebody who will be committed to doing the delicate work that needs to be done to stitch two very important countries together,” Acting Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia, Alice G Wells, said at the farewell reception.

U.S. Chief of Protocol Can Henderson hosted a rare reception for Shringla at the historic Blair House that was attended by top officials from the White House, Pentagon, State Department, Department of Commerce and the US Trade Representatives.

The Blair House reception for an outgoing envoy is normally reserved only for a few countries. India has emerged as one of them. Previously it was normally done at the Foggy Bottom headquarters of the State Department.

Ms. Wells, who is headed to India next week to attend the Raisina Dialogue, said that the two countries have been working for the last two decades to realise the goal of becoming “a natural partner”, a term that was coined during the tenure of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

“It has been extraordinary, what you have been able to achieve,” she said.

In his brief remarks, Mr. Shringla said: “The year has been an intense year.

In the second half of the last year, there were as many as four meetings between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Donald Trump, in addition to the two phone calls between them.

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar visited the U.S. twice including the one for the successful 2+2 dialogue in December. The year also saw visits by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman. Similarly, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin visited India. To cap it all was the historic Howdy Modi event in Houston wherein Trump joined Modi to address a strong crowd of 50,000 Indian Americans.

“It has been a great tenure, not just by the way of activity, but I think I’ve enjoyed every moment of the time that I’ve been here,” Mr. Shringla said as he echoed Prime Minister Narendra Modi in describing United States as India’s partner of choice.

“I leave here with the sense that this is one of our most important relationships… the words of our prime minister constantly came to my mind, when he said that the United States is a partner of choice when it comes to the socioeconomic transformation of India through our flagship scheme and initiatives.

“I think that’s what is important. As we develop and as we move forward, the U.S. is the country that offers us the means and the ability and the capacity to achieve our objectives in developmental terms, technology terms, investment terms and in every way possible. So, as I go back to New Delhi, we look forward to expanding on the relationship, broadening it and deepening it,” Mr. Shringla added.

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