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U.S. names administration insider as new ambassador to India

Verma, an Indian-American and lawyer by trade, served in Obama's first term and is seen as close to the administration

Published: Updated:

President Barack Obama on Thursday nominated former State Department official Rich Verma to be the new US ambassador to India.

Verma, an Indian-American and lawyer by trade, served in Obama's first term and is seen as close to the administration.

That someone close to the Obama circle is being sent to India as America's top envoy suggests the administration is eager to patch up sometimes frayed ties with the South Asian power.

The nomination also comes as Obama prepares to welcome new Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Washington at the end of this month.

Washington has worked hard to restore relations after a series of spats. They include a crisis in December when U.S.S authorities arrested Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade in New York for allegedly mistreating her housekeeper.

The incident triggering fury in New Delhi and led to the resignation of then ambassador Nancy Powell, whom Verma would replace if confirmed by the Senate.

Verma, while in the government, was then secretary of state Hillary Clinton's point man for legislative affairs. He left the administration in 2011.

Earlier in his career, Verma acted as national security advisor to the Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid.

Among other posts he holds now, Verma is a senior counselor in the international consulting firm ASG, which is led by former secretary of state Madeleine Albright and other former officials under Bill Clinton.

In a statement, Albright praised Verma as ideal for the ambassadorial job, saying he will be a “superb bridge between our two nations.”

“Rich has been instrumental in shaping American foreign policy during the course of his career,” Albright said.

“He has counseled Secretaries of State, Congressional leadership, and influential think tanks on some of the most critical aspects of national security, including counterterrorism, homeland security, and nuclear negotiations,” she added.