Washington, April 1 :
The US has denied that the sudden resignation of US Ambassador to India Nancy Powell was in any way “related to any tension, any recent situations” between India and the US.
“There’s no big behind-the-scenes story here,” US State Department spokesperson Marie Harf told reporters Monday. She also said Powell’s resignation does not indicate any realignment in India-US ties.
Harf said Powell “has submitted her resignation to President (Barack) Obama, as has been planned for some time, and she will retire to her home in Delaware before the end of May”.
“This is the end of a distinguished 37-year career – I think after 37 years, she deserves to retire,” Harf said. “But I want to dispel any rumours out there that this is related in any, to anything besides her long-planned retirement.”
“It’s not at all related to anything happening in the relationship, it doesn’t indicate any realignment of the relationship,” she said.
Harf described India-US relationship as “an incredibly key partnership that will continue under our team there and under whoever is named the next ambassador”.
“Obviously, the relationship between the US and India isn’t about one person, while incredibly important,” she said.
“It’s about the whole host of officials that engage, from Secretary (of State John) Kerry and others at the White House and here on down,” Harf said.
The US-India ties have seen some strain lately over the handcuffing and strip search of Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade in New York last year. The episode led to a bitter diplomatic stand-off between both countries, which ended with Khobragade being sent back to India and New Delhi in turn getting a US diplomat of the same rank sent back.
Powell announced her resignation at a US Mission Town Hall meeting in New Delhi Monday night. She took over in April 2012 and has still a year to go to complete a three-year term.
Amid a Congressional report that Bharatiya Janata Party leader Narendra Modi will be automatically entitled to a US visa if he becomes prime minister, Harf said the US would work with whoever Indian people choose.
“We will work with whoever the people of India decide should lead their country,” Harf told reporters Monday.
“We believe it’s a critical partnership, and we’re moving forward with it,” she said when asked about a recent memo from the bipartisan Congressional Research Service.