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Blackwill quits as envoy

US Ambassador to India, Robert Blackwill has announced that he is quitting.

india Updated: Apr 21, 2003 19:16 IST

US Ambassador to India Robert Blackwill, who announced Monday that he is quitting to return to teaching at Harvard, has called for US support to India in the fight against terrorism.

"As I have said many times during my stay in India, the fight against international terrorism will not be won until terrorism against India ends permanently," Blackwill said in a statement.

"There can be no other legitimate stance by the United States, no American compromise whatever on this elemental geopolitical and moral truth.

"The United States, India and all civilized nations must have zero tolerance for terrorism. Otherwise, we sink into a swamp of moral relativism and strategic myopia," he said.

Blackwill said he would return to Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government at the end of this summer "to continue my academic career" in the footsteps of two of his illustrious predecessors - John Kenneth Galbraith and Daniel Patrick Moynihan.

The envoy, who has made a big impact in New Delhi since he took up the post less than two years ago for his passionate espousal of closer U.S.-India relations, gave no reason for his decision in his 1,100-word statement.

But he said he and his wife missed the family. "We miss our five children in the United States. We are attached to our home in Cambridge and to our friends in America. Harvard beckons. Mother India has marked us deeply and only for the better - for all time."

In May last year the State Department had held an inquiry into complaints by embassy staffers about Blackwill's "autocratic management style" of running the embassy.

Reports at that time said some State Department officials were unhappy with Blackwill, who was handpicked by President George W. Bush for the job, for going over their heads to access the White House.

He said he had already informed President Bush and other senior administration officials of his decision during a visit to Washington in January.

The envoy was full of praise for "Mother India," a country he described as "magnificent" and as a "rising great power of 21st century" and upbeat about the future of U.S. -India relations. "Our consistently troubled bilateral past is behind us," he said.

"In naming me as his envoy to this magnificent country, President Bush did me a great honor. I have tried to justify his confidence by energetically promoting his vision of India as a rising great power of the 21st century and his primary goal of the world's oldest and largest democracies operating together to transform their relations, to forge concentrated strategic collaboration for the decades ahead," he said.

He referred to the transformation that had taken place in bilateral relations and said before it began "it was rare for members of a president's cabinet and senior American officials to visit India. .........(but) almost a hundred have come in the past two years."

He also referred to the lifting of U.S. sanctions imposed on India following New Delhi's nuclear tests, commencement of joint military exercises and cooperation in various fields, including fighting terrorism, intelligence exchange, law enforcement and HIV/AIDS and health problems.

"Two years ago, American and Indian policymakers did not address together the important issues of cooperative high technology trade, civil space activity and civilian nuclear power.

"Today, all three are under continuing bilateral discussion. And, in addition, there has been crisis management from time to time along the way concerning tensions in South Asia," he noted.

Blackwill emphasized the importance of India building "national economic strength ... for sustained diplomatic influence and military muscle." "Therefore, I hope for a robust India economic performance in the years ahead, and for a sharp increase in U.S.-India trade and American investment in India," he said and added promoting U.S. business had been one of his
major preoccupations.

He thanked senior members of the Indian government for their "unfailing generosity" to him and specifically mentioned Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani, Finance Minister Jaswant Singh, External Affairs Minister Yashwant Sinha, Defence Minister George Fernandes and National Security Advisor Brajesh Mishra.

First Published: Apr 21, 2003 19:16 IST