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Ken Juster could be next US ambassador to India

Senior White House official Kenneth Juster is likely to be the next US ambassador to India, ending a months-long search by the Trump administration.

world Updated: Jun 21, 2017 22:29 IST
Yashwant Raj
Kenneth Juster, a lawyer who previously served as deputy secretary of commerce, is widely tipped to be the next US ambassador to India.
Kenneth Juster, a lawyer who previously served as deputy secretary of commerce, is widely tipped to be the next US ambassador to India.(Courtesy Polish Embassy in the US)

Senior White House official Kenneth Juster is likely to be the next US ambassador to India, ending a months-long search that had several Indian-Americans in the mix as well.

But an announcement is not expected in time for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the US starting later this week.

The Washington Post, which first reported the development on Wednesday morning, said Juster was described by administration officials as “a consensus pick that places a top notch India expert in a crucial diplomatic post” and he was undergoing a new round of clearances. 

While the report also said India had endorsed the appointment, sources in New Delhi pushed back, saying the formal stage of “agrément”, a diplomatic process in which the host country’s assent is sought before announcing the envoy’s nomination, had not been reached yet.

Juster is currently serving as deputy assistant to the president for international economic affairs and deputy director of the National Economic Council in the White House. He has been a regular on the meeting list of senior Indian officials in Washington for their first meetings with the Trump administration.

There was no response from the White House to a request for comment on The Washington Post article.

Juster, a lawyer from Harvard, is an experienced India hand. As deputy secretary of commerce in President George W Bush’s administration — a position roughly the equivalent of minister of state in India — he had launched the High Technology Cooperation Group to promote trade in sensitive dual-use goods and technology.

The ambassadorship fell vacant after Rich Verma, a Barack Obama appointee, left as it happens during a change of administrations. Others in the race had included Shalli Kumar, an Indian American businessman from Chicago who had emerged as one of major donors to the Trump campaign and who had been instrumental in the Republican nominee's unprecedented outreach to the Indian American community.

Another Indian American, Ashley Tellis, who played a crucial role in finalising the landmark India-US civil nuclear cooperation deal as a member of the Bush administration, had also figured in speculation. 

Tellis fully endorsed Juster's reported selection, telling Hindustan Times, “He is an excellent choice.”