US’ decision to recall its envoy Nancy Powell home four days before Modi becomes India's new Prime Minister has also raised few eyebrows. (JPN/Agencies)
Normally an envoy's return would not be much of news but analysts have linked Powell's abrupt March announcement of retirement after only two years in the job to her perceived failure to read the writing on the wall.
Powell is apparently blamed for failing to contain Devyani Khobragade affair and reaching out too late to Modi following his emergence on the national scene even as America's European partners were making overtures to the Bharatiya Janata Party leader.
Washington's renewed invitation to Modi came in a congratulatory message on Tuesday from Secretary of State John Kerry after his appointment as India's Prime Minister following the BJP's ‘resounding victory’ in India's historic national election.
"Declaring that US was ‘deeply invested in our strategic relationship’ with India,” Kerry on Tuesday said that Washington was ready to work closely with Modi and the new government to promote shared prosperity and strengthen our security.
"Calling India-US friendship as ‘absolutely vital’," Kerry said he looked forward to returning to India soon and "echo" President Barack Obama's invitation to ‘Prime Minister Modi to visit the United States at the earliest opportunity’.
Obama's invitation to Modi in a congratulatory call last Friday finally ended Washington's boycott of the BJP leader, whose US visa was revoked in 2005 over his alleged role in the 2002 Gujarat riots.
Neither Kerry nor the State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki on Tuesday made any reference to the visa flap that had threatened to derail what Obama has famously described as ‘one of the defining partnerships of the 21st century’.
Psaki announced that Powell will depart for New Delhi on May 22 ‘with a deep appreciation of the Administration and the State Department for her outstanding work as ambassador to India’.
"Under her guidance, we continued our strategic partnership across a number of important areas, such as trade, defence, space, and education," Psaki said without offering an explanation why Powell could not wait until the formation of Modi government.
Former US ambassador to South Korea Kathleen Stephens will step in to serve as the charge until a new permanent ambassador is nominated and confirmed by the Senate, she said.
“She will arrive in Delhi in early June and looks forward to working closely with the new Government of India on a range of issues," Psaki said.
US’ decision to recall its envoy Nancy Powell home four days before Modi becomes India's new Prime Minister has also raised few eyebrows.