“It is in no way related to any tension, any recent situations. There is no big behind the scenes story here," said State Department Deputy Spokesperson Marie Harf when asked about Powell's announcement in New Delhi that she has sent her resignation to President Barack Obama.
"She announced that she has submitted her resignation to President Obama, as has been planned for some time, and she will retire to her home in Delaware before the end of May," Harf said.
"This is the end of a distinguished 37-year career, she deserves to retire - that has included postings as US Ambassador to Uganda, Ghana, Pakistan, Nepal and India, as well as service in a number of other locations. But I want to dispel any rumors out there that this is related in any way to anything besides her long-planned retirement," Harf said.
When asked if Powell's resignation reflected any ‘realignment of diplomatic relations between India and US seven days before the elections’, Harf said there is ‘no big secret’ to timing here.
"All the rumors and speculation are, quite frankly, totally false. She is retiring, after 37 years – returning home to Delaware by the end of May. I don't have further insight into why she chose now, but it is not at all related to anything happening in the relationship. It does not indicate any realignment of the relationship," she said.
"This is an incredibly key partnership that will continue under our team there and under whoever is named the next ambassador," Harf said.
No decision has been made about Powell’s replacement.
"Let me see exactly when she is heading back and who will be stepping in to fill in her shoes. Obviously, the relationship between US and India is not about one person - while incredibly important, it is about the whole host of officials that engage, from Secretary Kerry and others at the White House and here on down," she said.
"So the relationship is much broader than our ambassador, although she is wonderful and amazing, and, again, I think deserves a retirement after 37 years," Harf said.