S Jaishankar,who was one of the key negotiators of the India-US nuclear deal between 2004 and 2007,is tipped to become the next ambassador to China. He will succeed Nirupama Rao who takes over as the next Foreign Secretary from August 1.
Rao is expected to join the Ministry of External Affairs as the Foreign Secretary-understudy on July 17,and will be involved in the visit of US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on July 20 and 21.
The appointment of Jaishankar,who is at present the High Commissioner to Singapore,has reportedly been finalised and formal orders are expected to be out next week.
Jaishankar,a highly-rated 1977-batch diplomat,is the son of veteran strategic affairs expert K Subrahmanyam. He was the Joint Secretary in the Americas division in the MEA from June 2004 to January 2007,when the process of Indo-US nuclear deal negotiations began,and was instrumental in negotiating the 123 Agreement with the Bush administration.
Though Jaishankar may not have served in Beijing before or hasnt been posted in the East Asia division either,he is said to be a seasoned diplomat with the ability to handle complex issues. He is proficient in Russian and knows Japanese (his wife is a Japanese) and Hungarian as well.
He goes to Beijing at a challenging time when the widely-described New China is seen to be emerging and making fresh claims on the India-China border.
A PhD in international relations,the 54-year-old has served in Tokyo as deputy chief of mission and an ambassador in Prague.
Besides,he has also served in Moscow,Washington DC,Colombo and Budapest. He was also Press Secretary to the President,from March 1993 to January 1994,during Shankar Dayal Sharmas presidency. His successor in Singapore will be T C A Raghavan,who is currently heading the sensitive Pakistan-Afghanistan-Iran desk (popularly known as the PAI division),since March 2007.
Having served as Deputy High Commissioner in Islamabad from February 2003 to March 2007,Raghavan was crucial in crafting Indias diplomatic response in the post-26/11 Mumbai terror attacks.
A 1982-batch diplomat,Raghavan was director in the office of External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh from March 2000 to February 2003. He also served in Indian embassies in London,Thimpu and Kuwait. Raghavan,who also speaks Arabic,is a PhD in history.