Biden set to name close ally as ambassador to India
US President Joe Biden is reportedly ready to name a close political ally Eric Garcetti, current Democratic mayor of Los Angeles, as ambassador to India.
Axios, which first reported Biden could pick Garcetti some time ago, said in a report on Tuesday that the president appears to have settled on him for India and an announcement could be made as early as next week, along with other ambassadorial nominations that will be sent together to the Senate for confirmation.
Garcetti, 50 was one of the co-chairs of Biden’s presidential campaign and was also part of a panel that the then Democratic nominee had set up to look for his running mate. After the election, Garcetti was named one of the co-chairs of the inauguration committee.
The Los Angeles mayor was widely expected to get a cabinet berth and reports had suggested that time he was being considered for secretary housing. But, his chances dimmed after he was seen as being indifferent to allegations of sexual harassment against a top aide, including by a journalist.
American presidents are known to send close political allies and donors on ambassadorial assignments. Host countries are most willing to welcome political allies who apparently have the ability to reach the president, or the White House, directly, skipping over the multiple layers of state department bureaucracy.
After BA and MA from Columbia University, Garcetti went to Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar (as former president Bill Clinton) and then went on to the London School of Economics. His website as LA mayor says he is also a jazz pianist (and secretary of state Antony Blinken plays the guitar and has his own band) and a photographer.
If named and confirmed by the Senate, Garcetti will succeed Ken Juster, who was sent by former president Donald Trump, and will from New Delhi helm a bilateral relationship that has grown in depth and breadth significantly in recent years, across administrations of both the parties.
Picking up from where president Trump left off, President Biden signaled an early commitment to the relationship. Prime Minister Narendra Modi was among the first world leaders he called after moving into the White House and hosted the first summit of the leaders of the Quad, which includes India.
Biden dispatched one of his senior cabinet members defence secretary Lloyd Austin to New Delhi as part of first foreign visits by his top officials; invited Modi to a climate summit; backed a proposal by India and South Africa to temporarily waive patent protections for Covid-19 vaccines; and sent $100 million worth of oxygen supplies, PPEs and therapeutics to help India deal with a deadly second wave of Covid-19 cases.
Indian external affairs minister S Jaishankar is currently on a five-day tour of the United States and reaches Washington DC on Wednesday for the first in-person engagement by an Indian cabinet member with the Biden administration in the US. He is meeting secretary of state Blinken, national security adviser Jake Sullivan and US trade representative Katherine Tai, and others, including business leaders.