A key Congressional panel today approved the nomination of Robert Blake, a former deputy chief of US mission in India, as the new Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia.
Blake, till recently the US Ambassador to Sri Lanka, has served as the deputy chief of US mission in New Delhi from 2003 to 2006.
At a meeting today, the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs approved the nomination of Blake, who had testified before it last week.
His nomination now goes to the US Senate for final approval, following which he would replace Richard Boucher, as the points man of the Obama Administration for South and Central Asia.
However, Special US Envoy for Pakistan and Afghanistan Richard Holbrooke would continue to hold a position above him on issues related to Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Both the approval hearing and the nomination communique issued by the White House mentioned him as for the post of Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia.
A State Department official said that Blake like Boucher would head the South and Central Asia Bureau of the State Department and there is no move right now to bifurcate this wing of the State Department into two different bureaus as was the case a couple of years ago.