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Juster was serving as deputy assistant for international economic affairs to President Trump; played a key role in the Indo-US civil nuclear agreement talks too

The United States Senate, on Thursday (US Time) confirmed by a voice vote the nomination of 62-year-old Kenneth Juster as the country’s next Ambassador to India.

Juster’s appointment would fill the nine month long vacancy that was created after Richard Verma, an appointee of the Obama administration, resigned as the US envoy to India on January 20 following the swearing-in of Donald Trump as President of the United States.

A seasoned diplomat who enjoys wide-ranging support from American leaders of all political hues – as was evident from the Senate unanimously endorsing his nomination – Juster was serving as deputy assistant to the president for International Economic Affairs and deputy director of the National Economic Council in the White House before his appointment as the US envoy to India.

While the date of Juster formally taking over his new role in India has not been announced yet, he is expected to participate in the Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) scheduled to be held in Hyderabad between November 28 and 30. The GES, which will also be attended by President Trump’s daughter and presidential adviser Ivanka, is being co-hosted by India and the United States and will be inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Juster is an old India hand and as deputy secretary of commerce in President George W Bush’s administration he had launched the US-India High Technology Cooperation Group to promote trade in sensitive dual-use goods and technology. Besides being one of the key architects of the Next Steps in Strategic Partnership initiative between the United States and India, it is widely believed that Juster also played a crucial role in laying the foundation for the Indo-US civil nuclear agreement that was signed between then Indian External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, on October 10, 2008.

Juster was nominated to be the Ambassador to India on September 5. He has over 35 years of experience as a senior business executive, senior law partner, and senior government official, including serving as the US Under Secretary of Commerce from 2001 to 2005. He was also acting counselor of the US State Department from 1992 to 1993, and deputy and senior adviser to the deputy secretary of State from 1989 to 1992.

The bipartisan support that Juster enjoys in the US can be gauged from the fact that despite him being a Republican, some of the strongest endorsements for his nomination as Ambassador to India came from the Democrats.

Democratic Senator Mark Warner was quoted by news agency PTI as saying: “I was proud to support Ken’s nomination to be our country’s representative in India, one of our most important defence partners in the region. As Ambassador, I trust his decades of work on critical issues like trade, cybersecurity and defence will help advance the US-India relationship in a positive direction.”

Juster is also known to be a key confidante of President Donald Trump. He was hired to serve the White House by the president’s chief economic advisor Gary Cohn and has reportedly worked closely with includes Trump’s daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner. Together with Cohn, Ivanka and Kushner, Juster pushed for America’s continued engagement with the world, a stream of thought that was interrupted occasionally by President Trump’s former chief strategist Steve Bannon who pushed for an ‘America First’ thrust on all US policies.

Juster holds a law degree from the Harvard Law School, a masters degree in Public Policy from the John F Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, and a bachelors degree in Government from Harvard College. He has also served as Chairman of Harvard University’s Weatherhead Center for International Affairs and as Vice Chairman of The Asia Foundation.

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