In what is being seen as a move that will contribute to resetting the troubled Indo-US relationship, the United States ambassador to India Nancy Powell has resigned.
The US embassy website posted Monday night that Powell had "submitted her resignation to President Obama and, as planned for some time, will retire to her home in Delaware before the end of May." 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 the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi.
Her defenders argue she was handling a relationship that was in trouble because of indifference of Barack 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.
However, the arrest of Indian diplomat Khobragade was Powell's primary debacle. She was seen as having failed to have warned the US system of the fallout of the crisis, say diplomatic sources.
Powell expressed "her appreciation for the professionalism and dedication of the US mission to India team who have worked to expand the parameters of the US-India bilateral relationship”.
“There is no big behind the scene story here,” state department deputy spokesperson Marie Harf said at the daily briefing in Washington on Monday.
“I want to dispel any rumours out there that this is related in any way to anything besides her long-planned retirement.”
(With inputs from Washington)