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Former US envoy Roemer advocates early appointment of full fledged Ambassador to India

India must be a top priority for American presidents and foreign affairs experts in implementing US foreign policy and the war in Ukraine cannot delay decisions or divert attention from India priorities, according to former U.S. envoy to India Timothy Roemer.

While he did not criticise the Biden administration overtly for failing to appoint an envoy in New Delhi, Roemer noted that the “U.S. still does not have an ambassador in New Delhi more than 20 months into the Biden administration.”

These observations by the former envoy and ex-Congressman were made by Roemer in a piece titled “National Security Strategy: India is a growing world power and partner” published by reputed US publication The Hill on Wednesday.

This is the longest period since 1947 when US embassy in Delhi has been without an envoy. US appointed its sixth C’d A in Delhi this week since the Biden admin took charge as its nominee for Ambassador is yet to be ratified by Senate. Elizabeth Jones, who is expected to take charge by next month, will act as Chargé d’Affaires (CDA), ad interim, the US State Department said in a statement. Since 2021, Washington has posted five CDAs in its mission in Delhi — Don Heflin, Edgard Kagan, Daniel Smith, Atul Keshap and Patricia A. Lacina.

The former envoy recalled how the Indo-USA ties have transformed over the past seven decades. “The United States-India relationship has transformed over 75 years, from one of simple recognition for their independence in 1947 to a period of mutual distance during the Cold War to a hyphenated connection to Pakistan during the 1980s and 1990s and finally to a “defining partnership for the 21st century” during the past two decades,” Roemer wrote.

“It’s now time to fully implement the recently announced White House National Security Strategy based upon rapidly churning geopolitics, a universal recognition that India is an independent force and key player in solving world problems, and to effectively manage policy differences in the partnership when they threaten to divide us on the global stage,” he suggested.

“…India is the pivotal player on key transnational issues listed in the National Security Strategy, from climate change to COVID-19 to energy transitions to water policy…Currently, the U.S. is in a precarious position of treating India too often like a permanent partner and always expecting cordial agreements and infinite consensus. We should show more flexibility such as we do with the “Quad” (including India, the U.S., Japan and Australia), propose more innovative initiatives like the Australia, United Kingdom and United States (AUKUS) partnership and broadening and deepening India’s inclusion in the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework on digital trade, artificial intelligence and cybersecurity issues,” Roemer suggested advocating a more flexible approach rather than asking India to join US-led alliance formally.

The United States and India are both experiencing the coercion and aggression of a more militaristic China, alleged Roemer. “India has been brutally attacked by China on its border, has witnessed the South China Sea islands become weaponized, watched Taiwan being terrorized by Chinese military drills and has been surrounded by China’s construction of blue water navy ports.”

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