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Mathai takes over as foreign secretary

Veteran diplomat Ranjan Mathai took over as India's new foreign secretary on Monday.

delhi Updated: Aug 01, 2011 23:56 IST
HT Correspondent

Veteran diplomat Ranjan Mathai took over as India's new foreign secretary on Monday. Among the top priority for the new foreign secretary will be focus on the challenges in the immediate neighbourhood and stressing the need for the holistic diplomacy.

Mathai, a 1974-batch Indian Foreign Service officer succeeds Nirupama Rao.

Rao has been appointed as Indian ambassador to the United States.

"Constructive cooperation in the immediate neighbourhood is the main challenge, and I think that will be one of my priority tasks," Mathai said.

"The foreign secretary is as much an institution as an individual," Mathai told reporters here after joining his office in South Block on Monday morning.

He stressed the need for a holistic foreign policy that takes care of India's political and strategic interests, combines the economic and commercial interests of the country, and also keeps in mind the cultural image of the country and the way in which the country portrays itself in the world.

Days after the foreign ministers of India and Pakistan held talks here, Mathai said he would continue the re-engagement process of restoring trust between the two neighbours.

"My mandate is substantive dialogue on all issues of common concerns," said Mathai, when asked about the trajectory of the revived India-Pakistan dialogue process.

"As regards Pakistan, I will like to say that I have entered this office with a mandate, which is that we as foreign secretaries are expected to pave the way for a substantive dialogue with Pakistan, on all issues," he said.