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Boucher to head South Asia Bureau

Former State Department spokesman, R Boucher, was nominated to head the South Asian Bureau.

india Updated: Jan 31, 2006 12:42 IST

Richard Boucher, the former State Department spokesman whose name has been floated for a year as the replacement for Christina Rocca to head the South Asia Bureau, has finally been nominated for the post.

Though President George W. Bush sent the nomination to the Senate Jan 18, and it is a pending matter before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the hearings are not set as Congress is in recess till Feb 1, and it is not clear whether Boucher will take his post before the president goes to India in March.

Being a career officer, Boucher's nomination is not expected to face any hurdles in Congress.

Holding the rank of a Career Minister, Boucher presents a change from political appointees like Rocca who have earlier served in this post, lending policy continuity through changing administrations. But he has never served in any South Asian country, though he has been to Asia, mostly East Asia.

He most recently served as assistant secretary of state for public affairs at the Department of State and hails from New York state.

Prior to this, he served as the United States senior official for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum. He has earlier served as US ambassador to Cyprus and consul general in Hong Kong. Earlier in his career, he served as deputy principal officer in Shanghai, China.

While he has never had any appointment in South Asia, Boucher's long stint as State Department spokesman has familiarised him with the politics of the region.

A graduate of Tufts University, Boucher was among the most personable of spokespersons for the State, having served as assistant secretary of public affairs under six secretaries of state during his career.

With the redesign of the South Asia bureau to include Central Asian republics, Boucher will also deal with countries like Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, the troubled Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan, along with India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and the volatile Nepal, as well as Bhutan and the Maldives.

First Published: Jan 31, 2006 12:33 IST