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HindustanTimes Tue,23 Sep 2014

No story behind Powell's resignation: US state dept

Yashwant Raj, Hindustan Times  Washington, April 01, 2014
First Published: 09:38 IST(1/4/2014) | Last Updated: 13:33 IST(1/4/2014)

The United States on Monday denied "rumours and speculations" about any tension or problem behind its India ambassador Nancy Powell's resignation.

The US embassy website had posted on Monday night that Powell had "submitted her resignation to President Barack Obama and, as planned for some time, will retire to her home in Delaware before the end of May."

US state department deputy spokesperson Marie Harf refuted all media reports in this regard at the daily briefing.

"There is no big behind the scene story here," said Harf.

"I want to dispel any rumours out there that this is related in any way to anything besides her long-planned retirement," she added.

Read: Nancy Powell meets Modi, US ends 9-yr old boycott

Asked about the timing of her resignation — just days before the beginning of the nine-phase Lok Sabha election in India — Harf insisted, "There is no big secret to timing here. All the rumours and speculations are quite frankly totally false."

When asked what impact BJP's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi's election could have on ties with the US — the US denied him a visa for nine years — Harf said, "We will work with whoever the people of India decide to lead the country. We believe it's a critical partnership and we are moving forward with it."

Powell's imminent removal was reported by the Hindustan Times on March 25.

The ambassador has been privately criticised by both US and Indian officials for failing to pre-empt the Devyani Khobragade affair and failing to be more pro-active on lifting the visa ban against Modi.

Read: Shift in power balance led US to reach out to Modi

Her defenders argue she was handling a relationship that was in trouble because of indifference of Obama's White House and the incapacity of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Shunting Powell, a career diplomat on the verge of retirement, would have been an easy political move for the Obama administration. Diplomatic sources said they had been hearing as early as February that Powell was due to leave Delhi.

(Inputs from Pramit Pal Chaudhuri)


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