Trump aide Kenneth Juster set to be next US ambassador to India

Kenneth Juster, 62, who is the deputy assistant to the US president for International Economic Affairs and Deputy Director of his National Economic Council, would replace Richard Verma if nominated and confirmed by the Senate.

india Updated: Jun 22, 2017 00:01 IST
Yashwant Raj
Yashwant Raj
Hindustan Times, Washington
Kenneth Juster,US ambassador to India,White House
Kenneth Juster(AFP File Photo)

Senior White House official Kenneth Juster will be the next US ambassador to India, ending a months-long search that saw several Indian-Americans in the mix. An announcement, however, is not expected in time for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the US starting later this week.

“Ken Juster’s move to Indian Ambassador is because he is extremely qualified for the position,” White House deputy spokesperson Lindsay E Walters told PTI about a report carried earlier on Wednesday by The Washington Post.

“Ken has a strong and positive relationship with everyone in the White House, including the president,” Walters added.

When asked if the Washington Post story was confirmed, another White House official, Michael Short, told Hindustan Times: “No, we have no announcements to make at this time.”

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

Juster is currently serving as a deputy assistant to the President for International Economic Affairs and deputy director of the National Economic Council in the White House. He had been a regular on the meeting list of senior Indian officials in DC for their first meetings with the Trump administration.

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.

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 had played a crucial role in the finalisation of the landmark India-US civil nuclear cooperation deal as a member of the Bush administration, had also figured in the speculation.

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

First Published: Jun 22, 2017 00:01 IST