NEW DELHI: Donald Trump is "close to selecting" Mumbai-born Ashley Tellis as the next United States ambassador to India, the Washington Post has reported. The present ambassador Richard Verma tweeted on Sunday that he will depart on January 20, the day Mr Trump takes over as US President.
The Post, in its article titled 'Trump could make Obama's pivot to Asia a reality,' has described Mr Tellis as a "renowned India expert" and quotes transition sources as saying he could be picked as US ambassador in New Delhi.
"On the ambassadorial level, Trump's Asia appointments are outpacing those for other regions and include top Asia hands. Transition sources said Trump is close to selecting Ashley Tellis, a former White House official and renowned India expert, to be the next U.S. ambassador to India," the report says, noting that there has been concern that Mr Trump has appointed no one yet with Asia expertise to a senior position on his team.
"Behind the scenes, however, the Trump transition is preparing its own pivot to Asia. As the team that will implement that policy takes shape, what's emerging is an approach that harkens back to past Republican administrations - but also seeks to actualize the Obama administration's ambition of enhancing the U.S. presence in the region," the report says.
Mr Tellis, 55, is at present a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, a Washington think-tank, and has played as an important role in the US' engagement with India, including working on the civil nuclear agreement between the two countries.
He has served in New Delhi before as senior adviser to the US ambassador, and was also on the US National Security Council staff as special assistant to the president and a senior director for strategic planning and Southwest Asia.
Ashley Tellis grew up in India and got a master's degree from the University of Bombay before getting a PhD from the University of Chicago. He is the author of several books.
Richard Verma, 48, was appointed US ambassador to India by the outgoing Barack Obama regime in Washington in early 2015. He tweeted yesterday after meeting superstar Amitabh Bachchan.