Arun Kumar Singh, a 1979 batch Indian Foreign Service officer, has been named ambassador to the United States in place of S Jaishankar, who took over as foreign secretary on January 28. Fifty-nine-year-old Singh is India’s ambassador to France now.
South Block sources told Hindustan Times that papers relating to Arun Singh’s appointment — called agrément in diplomatese — have been forwarded to the Barack Obama administration and a formal response is awaited. Singh has served as ambassador to Israel, and was deputy chief of mission in Washington for nearly five years before going to Paris.
Singh has handled the Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran desk as joint secretary through the past decade.
Sending out a clear signal that merit, and not seniority, is the top criterion for ambassadorial assignments, Vikram Doraiswami has been shifted from Uzbekistan to South Korea as ambassador; Saurav Kumar is likely to take over as ambassador to Iran in place of Dinkar Srivastava, who has attained superannuation. Doraiswami was involved in clinching the Indo-US nuclear deal as joint secretary (Americas) as well as taking the bilateral Defence Trade and Technology Initiative forward.
Sources said Indian ambassador to Bahrain G Mohan Kumar is slated to replace Arun Kumar Singh in Paris as he was deputy chief of mission in the same embassy in the past. His place will be taken over by Alok Sinha, a joint secretary now at South Block. GS Gupta has been moved from Oman to Netherlands as ambassador.