S. Jaishankar, the new Indian Ambassador to the US, will arrive here tomorrow to take charge amid a raging diplomatic row over the arrest and strip-search of senior diplomat Devyani Khobragade on visa fraud charges.
Jaishankar, who till recently was India’s Ambassador to China, arrives in Washington at a time when bilateral ties threaten to hit a low in more than a decade now in the aftermath of the arrest of Khobragade.
In protest against her arrest and her mistreatment by US Marshals, India has demanded an apology and withdrawal of charges against the 39-year-old Deputy Consul General at the Indian consulate in New York.
New Delhi has retaliated by withdrawing a slew of privileges being provided to American diplomats in India for decades. But the US has refused to drop charges and tender an apology.
Known as one of the brightest foreign service officials of his generation, who played a key role in the Indo-US civilian nuclear deal, Jaishankar’s first task would be to prevent the relationship from getting derailed any further.
Even as he arrives in Washington, he would have to wait for several weeks before he can formally present his diplomatic credentials to US President Barack Obama at the White House.
Obama, who is currently enjoying year end vacation with his family in Hawaii, is schedule to return only on January 5.
The White House has not announced any schedule of the President for credentialing of foreign diplomats, which is normally done in groups.
Jaishankar, who is proficient in Russian and also knows Japanese and Hungarian, succeeds Nirupama Rao.
Born in New Delhi in 1955, Jaishankar is the son of prominent Indian strategic affairs analyst, commentator, and civil servant K. Subrahmanyam and brother of historian Sanjay Subrahmanyam.