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Mathai strong in foreign secy race

delhi Updated: Apr 30, 2011 23:19 IST
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Two prestigious postings — foreign secretary and Indian ambassador to the USA — are up for grabs.

If all goes according to plan and external affairs minister SM Krishna's penchant for respecting seniority prevails, Ranjan Mathai, a 1974-batch IFS officer — presently envoy to France — may be the next foreign secretary.

His batch-mate Hardeep Puri, India’s permanent representative to the United Nations, is also a strong contender. There are also talks of Puri getting an extension on his current post, considering India’s bid for a permanent seat at the world body and push for the UN reforms are at a crucial stage and his skills in the UN circles are rated high.

Mathai, has served in Vienna, Colombo, Washington, Tehran and Brussels. He was ambassador to Israel and Qatar; deputy high commissioner of India to the UK, before his current posting.

With his recent posting as ambassador to Japan, Aloke Prasad, from the 1974 batch, is not in the reckoning for the top post. But there is hectic lobbying from many officers for the post.

Sharat Sabharwal (IFS 1975), Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan is banking on an Indo-Pakistan breakthrough becoming the next big thing on the foreign policy front. Incumbent Nirupama Rao retires on July 31 after completing the two-year term.

The race for the US ambassadorship is also on. With incumbent Meera Shankar retiring in July, Nirupama Rao hopes to get the post. But with former chief election commissioner Naveen Chawla and cabinet secretary KM Chandrashekhar entering the fray, it could well be a tough race.