Shortly after presenting a copy of his credentials to the US State Department here Thursday, the envoy met two top department officials, Under Secretary for Political Affairs, Wendy Sherman, and Under Secretary for Management, Patrick F. Kennedy.
While Jaishankar, who served as the Indian ambassador in China for the last four years, would formally present his credentials to President Barack Obama, away on a family holiday in Hawaii, only in the New Year, he can now start interacting with US officials.
Diplomats in New Delhi and Washington have been engaged in talks to defuse the crisis since the Dec 12 arrest of Devyani Khobragade, India’s deputy consul general in New York, on charges of visa fraud and underpaying her nany. She has pleaded not guilty.
The new ambassador, who played a key role in negotiating the landmark India-US civil nuclear deal and other initiatives, is a familiar face to the Washington bureaucracy dealing with South Asia.
Son of India’s pre-eminent strategic thinker, the late K Subrahmanyam, he is expected to get the process moving with meetings with Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Nisha Desai Biswal and other US officials in the coming days.
Jaishankar, who succeeds Nirupama Rao, whom he had replaced in China too in 2009, served as Under Secretary (Americas) and Policy Planning in the Ministry of External Affairs from 1981 to 1985.
He then spent three years from 1985 to 1988 as First Secretary handling political affairs at the Indian Embassy in Washington, DC, followed by two years as First Secretary and Political Advisor to the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) in Sri Lanka.
Jaishankar led the Americas Division in the Ministry of External Affairs for a second time between 2004 and 2007.
Coming to Washington with more than three decades of diplomatic experience, Jaishankar has represented India’s interests and fostered friendly working relationships in countries around the world.
Jaishankar holds a PhD and MPhil in International Relations and an MA in Political Science. He is a member of the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London.
Jaishankar is married to Kyoko Jaishankar and has two sons and a daughter.