New US envoy’s familiarity with India may prove vital
Kenneth Juster is expected to move into Roosevelt House, a residential abode designed by famous American architect Edward Durell Stone, at the US Embassy complex in New Delhi soon.
The 62-year-old diplomat was sworn in as the US envoy to India on Tuesday, assuming a position that had been lying vacant under the Trump administration since January 20. The best part of Juster’s appointment, especially in the light of the seemingly unpredictable nature of the US president’s foreign policy, was the fact that he happens to be a known entity in India.
The new envoy’s previous experience in the government may help him hit the ground running when he arrives in India soon. He is expected to handle the high-profile Global Entrepreneurship Summit, attended by Ivanka – the daughter and advisor of president Trump – slated for the end of this month.
“When it comes to bureaucracy, there isn’t a lot of difference between India and the US. So, having worked in the system will help him immensely,” said an Indian official.
Juster has more than a fair idea about bilateral ties and challenging policy issues the two sides have hammered out in recent times. He was among those who worked on addressing the deep mistrust that cropped up between India and the US after the Pokhran-II nuclear test, and helped facilitate negotiations towards inking the civil nuclear deal. Juster also served as the American chair in the US-India High Technology Cooperation Group under the George Bush regime.
The diplomat has immense experience in the US state department, where he served as the acting counselor in the early 1990s and senior advisor to deputy secretary of state Lawrence S Eagleburger from 1989 to 1992. A lawyer by profession, he functioned as a partner as well as managing director at the Warburg Pincus global investment firm for over six years before joining the Trump administration.
Juster has also served as the chairman of Harvard University’s Weatherhead Centre for International Affairs, and as vice chairman of The Asia Foundation. He holds a law degree from the Harvard Law School, a masters degree in public policy from the John F Kennedy School of Government, and a bachelors degree in governance from Harvard College.
Going by his comments during the senate hearing of his confirmation as the ambassador, Juster will work towards furthering two key agendas – securing the IndoPacific region and promoting defence ties – of the Trump administration.
“The administration firmly believes that a strong India and a strong US-India relationship are in keeping with America’s interests. India’s role in the Indo-Pacific region and globally will be critical to international security as well as economic growth ,” he said.
“There are many elements of our effort to expand and enhance the strategic partnership between our countries. One key pillar is to deepen defence and security cooperation building on the US recognition of India as a major defence partner.”