Trump administration close to finalizing ambassador to India

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Kenneth Juster, senior Trump White House official slated to be the next Ambassador to India. (Photo: Asia Society)

Just five days before the arrival of India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the capital, the Trump administration appears to have zeroed in on an ambassadorial appointment for India.

According to a columnist for the Washington Post, Kenneth Juster, a member of the White House National Economic Council is soon to be named and “is a consensus pick that places a top notch India expert in a crucial diplomatic post,” the Post article says.

Juster was most recently on the Board of Trustees of  The Asia Foundation, serving there since 2009 until 2017. He became a Vice Chair of the Board and Executive Committee in 2014.

Juster also previously served as Under Secretary of Commerce from 2001 to 2005. During that time, he founded and served as U.S. Chair of the U.S.-India High Technology Cooperation Group, and was an important player in designing the Next Steps in Strategic Partnership initiative between the United States and India, according to several news reports. In addition, he was responsible for negotiating the End-Use Visit Understanding between the United States and China that facilitated increased exports of U.S. high technology to China, his biography on the Asian Society website says.

Upon completion of his term at the Commerce Department, Juster received the Secretary of Commerce’s William C. Redfield Award and Medal, the Commerce Department’s highest honor. Prior to this, he was a Senior Partner at Arnold & Porter, where he practiced international law from 1981 to 1989 and 1993 to 2001.

He was also the Counselor (Acting) of the U.S. Department of State from 1992 to 1993, and Deputy and Senior Adviser to Deputy Secretary of State Lawrence S. Eagleburger from 1989 to 1992.

Juster received the Secretary of State’s Distinguished Service Award and Medal, the State Department’s highest honor, in 1993.

He holds a law degree from the Harvard Law School, a master’s degree in Public Policy from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, and a bachelor’s degree in Government from Harvard College.

He also served as Managing Director at the global investment firm Warburg Pincus. From 2005 to 2010, he was Executive Vice President of Law, Policy, and Corporate Strategy at Salesforce.com, a software company that pioneered cloud computing for business enterprises.

At the White House, Juster serves as the international deputy to National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn. According to the Post, his departure from the White House was rumored for weeks amid reports of disagreements with officials on trade and economic issues. However, unnamed White House officials told Post columnist Josh Rogin that Juster had sought the position for India after other prospective candidates were out of the running for various reasons.

Paperwork for his clearance is currently ongoing according to the report and may not be ready by June 26, when President Trump meets Modi at the White House. However, “the Indian government has endorsed the appointment. the report says.

“Ken knows India well and actually was deeply involved in successful bilateral negotiations  between the two countries,” Ashley Tellis, senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, told Rogin. “The Indians will welcome him enthusiastically. He is a known quantity,” Tellis added.

Despite some differences with Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, Juster’s appointment as ambassador to India was endorsed by Ross in a statement he sent to Rogin, which said, “Ken Juster has a strong résumé and, while I only met him half a dozen or so times, I know of no reason why he could not serve our country well as ambassador to such an important country as India.”,” Ross said in a statement to me.

The White House Deputy Press Secretary Lindsay Walters told Rogin that Juster’s move to India “was because he was extremely qualified for the position.”

 

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