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Richard Rahul Verma confirmed as US Ambassador to India

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india australia flagFrom Lalit K Jha

Washington, Dec 10 (PTI) Richard Rahul Verma was today unanimously confirmed as the next US Ambassador to India by the Senate, making him the first-ever Indian-American to hold the post.

46-year-old Verma’s nomination was approved by the Senate by a voice vote, reflecting a sense of bi-partisan support to the Indo-US ties and showing his popularity among Senators across the aisle.

The Senate raced through his nomination process ahead of more than 50 ambassadorial nominations to make sure that he is in New Delhi when US President Barack Obama travels to India to be the chief guest at the Republic Day parade on January 26.

Verma, who quietly played an important role in the Congressional passage of civil nuclear deal with India, had advocated for strong Indo-US ties when in the administration and recently started “India 2020” project at Centre for American Progress — a top American-think tank.

He will replace Nancy Powell, who resigned in March after a damaging row over the treatment of diplomat Devyani Khobragade over visa fraud charges.

The US Embassy in New Delhi is currently headed by charge d’affaires Kathleen Stephens.

Verma is currently a senior counsellor at Steptoe & Johnson law firm and the Albright Stonebridge Group — a business advisory company led by former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.

Verma’s association with Obama goes back to 2008 when he worked on presidential debate preparations for the then Illinois senator.

His parents came to the US in the early 1960s.

“Rich Verma’s confirmation as US Ambassador to India is a huge victory for the US-India strategic partnership. That Rich was confirmed by a voice vote by the United States Senate is a potent demonstration of the high esteem in which both he and the bilateral relationship are held by both parties in Washington,” Ronak D Desai, an academic at Harvard University’s India and South Programme, told PTI.

“As President Obama prepares to make his second trip to India next month, he is fortunate to have Rich at the helm of our Embassy in New Delhi. He will prove instrumental in navigating US foreign relations with India to the new, unexplored heights,” Desai said.

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