Australia on Monday named its intelligence chief Peter Varghese, an Indian-Australian and a close aide of Premier Kevin Rudd as its new High Commissioner to India.
Varghese, the current head of the Office of National Assessments (ONA), will take over in August from John McCarthy, who has served in the job since 2004.
He will also hold concurrent accreditation to Bhutan and is expected to take up his appointment in August 2009.
Varghese served as Australia’s High Commissioner to Malaysia from 2000-2002. He also served in Australian missions in Vienna, Washington and Tokyo.
The announcement comes at a sensitive time in bilateral relations, with the billion dollar foreign student market under threat due to spate of attacks on Indian students in Melbourne and Sydney. More than 80,000 Indians are currently studying in Australia.
Announcing Varghese’s appointment, Foreign Minister Stephen Smith said Australia’s engagement with India was expanding
rapidly in recognition of the country’s growing economic and strategic importance and influence.
Australia and India also engage closely on strategic and defence matters, Smith said.