NEW DELHI: The place of the US ambassador in India has been vacant for nearly 18 months, the longest such hole in practically three many years, amid studies that US President Joe Biden’s nominee Eric Garcetti faces an uphill battle in his Senate affirmation.

The submit turned vacant when ambassador Kenneth Juster, a political appointee of the previous Donald Trump administration, stepped down in January 2021 after the change of presidency within the US.

The Joe Biden administration nominated Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti as the following envoy to India precisely a yr in the past, however the transfer stalled after he confronted allegations of being conscious of a senior aide’s involvement within the sexual harassment of colleagues.

Although there have been gaps of six to 10 months between US envoys assuming workplace up to now few many years, the final time the submit was vacant for an equally very long time was in 1994, when Frank Wisner offered his credentials greater than 16 months after his predecessor Thomas Pickering left the place.

Since Juster’s departure, 4 diplomats have held the place of chargé d’affaires or appearing head of the US embassy, with Patricia Lacina being the newest.

The absence of an envoy has, by and huge, not impinged on ongoing cooperation between the US and India, both at a bilateral degree or at multilateral boards such because the UN and the Quadrilateral Safety Dialogue, although individuals acquainted with the matter mentioned the present state of affairs isn’t optimum.

“An envoy, particularly one which has the ear of the US administration as in Juster’s case, can get issues transferring a lot quicker than any diplomat in an appearing capability,” one of many individuals mentioned.

Garcetti is one in every of dozens of Biden administration nominees whose circumstances have been caught with the US Senate for months. Some, similar to Ed Gonzalez, Biden’s selection to guide immigration and customs enforcement, have withdrawn their nomination as a result of lengthy delays. Gonzalez introduced his withdrawal final month after his case was stalled for greater than a yr.

Garcetti’s case was “dangling by a thread within the Senate, with a number of Democrats persevering with to precise hesitation over the nomination”, the Los Angeles Occasions reported just lately.

The nomination cleared the influential Senate International Relations Committee in January however subsequently stalled over allegations that he was reportedly conscious {that a} former aide, Rick Jacobs, was allegedly concerned in sexually harassing colleagues and making racist remarks.

Although highly effective Republican senator Chuck Grassley just lately lifted his “maintain” on Garcetti’s nomination, he mentioned he would vote “no” if the difficulty is taken into account by the Senate. Grassley’s workplace mentioned an investigation by his workers concluded Garcetti “probably knew, or ought to have identified” that his former senior adviser was sexually harassing and making racist remarks in direction of a number of people.

Garcetti, who has travelled to India a number of occasions and studied Hindi and Urdu in school, has denied the allegations and mentioned he would have acted towards Jacobs if he had been conscious of the matter.

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