The surprise retirement of Under Secretary of State Nicholas Burns, who played a seminal role in finalising the Indo-US civil nuclear deal, will take "some of the focus away" from the accord but his continuation as Special Envoy will help in its early conclusion, experts said.
"The encouraging thing is that Nick Burns is not leaving that portfolio... He will continue to be an envoy on his issue. That is very important and I think he can bring it to a successful conclusion as soon as possible," Former Assistant Secretary for South Asian Affairs Karl Inderfurth told PTI.
Analysts said that while Burns impending departure may have come as a surprise in some quarters, the practice of senior officials leaving their high profile jobs in the last year of administration to seek greener pastures in the private sector is nothing new.
"He (Burns) was of course the major advocate within the administration and his leaving had nothing to do with the trouble the accord faced on the Indian side," said Walter Andersen, the Acting Director of South Asia Studies at the Nitze School of Advanced International Studies of the Johns Hopkins University.
"That having been said, because he (Burns) was the major intellectual advocate of it, his not being there lends to take some of the focus away from it than otherwise would be," he said.
The decision by 51-year-old Burns was announced by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Jan 18. Though Burns will resign in March, officials said he had been asked to continue handling the deal.
However, with the deal facing opposition from the Left parties, both Inderfurth and Anderson said that the ball was now in India's court.