No Trump unknown: Kenneth Juster a familiar India hat, led key tech trade talks
Juster played a key role in fostering India-US ties during George Bush’s presidency, and also served as the US chair of the US-India High Technology Cooperation Group, a key initiative of the Bush administration in advancing strategic ties with India.india Updated: Jun 22, 2017 11:54 IST
For New Delhi, the likely appointment of US President Donald Trump aide Kenneth Juster as the ambassador could be a relief from the “unknown unknown” factors so frequently associated with the new American dispensation.
White House officials said Juster is set to be the next occupant of the Roosevelt House, the residence of United States ambassador to New Delhi, to succeed Richard Verma, the first Indian-origin US envoy to the country.
The Trump administration has kept the world capital buzzing on various issues — resetting the terms of the way the US engages with the world to pull out of the Paris climate deal and to showing no hurry in appointing envoys in many capitals.
“ ... Someone like Juster, who is a known entity will be good for India. He knows the country and region well,” said a government source.
Juster, 62, is a senior official in the National Economic Council of the White House. But he played a key role in fostering India-US ties during George Bush’s presidency. He served as the US chair of the US-India High Technology Cooperation Group (HTCG), a key initiative of Bush administration in advancing strategic ties with India, especially in the context of India-US nuclear deal.
The HTCG was created in 2002 under the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government. It had two broad agendas - to promote strategic trade, which in other words means getting access to dual use of items through easing of control of exports of such goods to India. India had to agree that exported items would meet the US concerns on valid end use, diversion and proliferation.
The group was also entrusted with two sides creating an appropriate environment for successful high-technology commerce in partnership with private sector. The group played an important role in addressing the trust deficit between the two sides and paving way for the India-US civil nuclear agreement.
Juster also got drafted into the trusted circles of Trump and was entrusted with important responsibilities such as president’s representative and lead US negotiator (‘Sherpa’) for the annual G-7, G-20, and APEC Summits.
“Juster has expertise in an array of subjects ranging from technology, law, business and his understanding of the region is pretty good,” said an Indian diplomat who didn’t wish to be named.
His wealth of experience in government and playing a crucial role in the India-US high technology group which dealt with issues related to the lifting of sanctions and dual-technology use might come handy.
Juster previously served as the under secretary of commerce (2001-2005), counsellor (acting) of the department of state (1992-1993), deputy and senior adviser to deputy secretary of state Lawrence S Eagleburger (1989-1992), and law clerk to judge James L Oakes of the US court of appeals for the second circuit (1980-1981).
He also served as the chairperson of the board of the Asia Foundation, nonprofit international development organisation.