President Joe Biden’s administration has appointed career diplomat Elizabeth Jones as the acting envoy of Washington DC to New Delhi amid continuing uncertainty over the confirmation of the appointment of Mayor of Los Angeles, Eric Garcetti, as the ambassador of the United States to India.
Jones, who earlier served as the US ambassador to Kazakhstan, will replace Patricia A Lacina as the Chargé d’Affaires at the American Embassy in New Delhi.
She recently served as the coordinator of the Biden Administration’s effort to relocate the Afghans, who had fled their country after it had gone under the control of the Taliban in August 2021, according to a press release issued by the US State Department announcing her appointment.
The US Embassy in New Delhi has been headed by acting envoys ever since the term of Kenneth L Juster as the American Ambassador to India concluded in January 2021 with the end of the presidency of Donald Trump.
Trump’s successor Biden nominated Garcetti, the Mayor of Los Angeles, as the next US ambassador to India on July 9, 2021.
Garcetti, however, has not yet taken up his new assignment as his nomination has not been confirmed by the US Senate. He was accused of being aware of the alleged sexual misconduct of his top aide Rick Jacobs. The Mayor of Los Angeles denied the allegation persistently during a hearing at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on his nomination in December 2021.
But a whistleblower, Naomi Seligman, who earlier worked as the communications director at the office of the Mayor of Los Angeles, urged the US Senate officials to examine his claims further. This prompted Republican Senator Chuck Grassley to get his office to conduct a probe and come out with a report on May 10 this year. The report concluded that Garcetti was likely aware of the alleged misconduct by Jacobs.
The US Senate has not yet voted on the nomination of Garcetti as the US ambassador to India, but the allegations against him made the Democratic Party unsure about garnering enough support in his favour. The voting is unlikely to be held anytime soon, as the US Congress is on a break till the Mid-Term polls on November 8, which will be followed by a busy lame-duck session.
Grassley’s allegations were denied by the Biden Administration though.