NRI Atul Keshap confirmed Ambassador to Sri Lanka and Maldives
Los Angeles, Aug 07, 2015NRIpress-Club/Satinder Sharma/Gary Singh Grewal
On Wednesday, Aug 05, 2015, NRI Atul Keshap was confirmed Ambassador to Sri Lanka and Maldives by the U.S. Senate.
He becoms the second NRI (Non-resident Indian) diplomat to be posted after Richard Rahul Verma to India.
Mr. Keshap and Mr. Verma, the U.S. envoy to India, both trace their origin to Punjab.
Before this appointment, he was serving as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia. Keshap works closely with Assistant Secretary of State Nisha Biswal to coordinate U.S. Government policy toward India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Maldives, and Bhutan, comprising a diverse and strategic region of almost 1.5 billion people and over $2 trillion in economic output.
He was the United States Senior Official for Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), a trade body whose members generate 55 percent of global GDP. In that capacity, he was responsible for U.S. policy initiatives during the Russia and Indonesia host years, and served concurrently as Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell’s Coordinator for Economic Policy in the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs.
- 2010 - 2012, Keshap worked with Assistant Secretary of State Robert Blake as Director of the Office of India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Maldives, and Bhutan Affairs in the State Department’s Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs, engaging in day-to-day management of U.S. foreign policy toward a strategically important region that comprises a fifth of the world's population.
- 2008- 2010, Keshap was Director of the Office of Human Rights, Humanitarian, and Social Affairs in the Bureau of International Organizations of the State Department. In that capacity, he helped lead U.S. efforts to frame multilateral human rights policy with regard to the United Nations system, including instructions to U.S. delegations to the Human Rights Council and the UN General Assembly.
Mr. Keshap was posted as Deputy Minister Counselor for Political Affairs at the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi, India, where he served as one of Ambassador David Mulford’s principal advisors on the U.S.-India civilian nuclear energy cooperation initiative, and also worked to implement the broader strategic partnership with India at all levels in close coordination with the Indian government while managing a large political reporting and outreach team.
- 2003-2004, Keshap served as Director for North African and Middle Eastern Regional Affairs at the National Security Council staff in the Executive Office of the President. While there, he was responsible for recommendations to the President and National Security Advisor on policy formulation for five countries in North Africa. He also helped implement the landmark breakthrough in relations with Libya, and helped complete negotiations on the U.S.-Morocco Free Trade Agreement.
Other assignments in Washington include as Special Assistant for the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia for the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, where he managed Ambassador Marc Grossman’s engagement with 25 countries in the Middle East, North Africa, Arabian Peninsula, and South Asia. As Country Desk Officer for the United Arab Emirates and Qatar from 2000-2002, he contributed to efforts to secure much-needed basing rights following September 11.
Keshap has also served as an Operations Officer on the executive staff of Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, and as a political/economic officer at U.S. Embassies in Rabat, Morocco and Conakry, Guinea.
He is the recipient of several Department of State individual Superior and Meritorious Honor Awards, as well as a certificate of recognition from Secretary of State Colin Powell for duties performed in the State Department Operations Center on September 11, 2001 and afterwards.
Originally from Charlottesville, Virginia, Keshap has also lived in Nigeria, Lesotho, Afghanistan, Zambia, and Austria. He is a graduate of the University of Virginia, where he received his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees. While there, he concentrated on Economics, International Relations, Diplomacy, and Religious Studies, as well as French. Keshap has working proficiency in French and speaks conversational Hindi and some Vietnamese.
Keshap's father, Chander Sen from Punjab was working in Nigeria as a U.N. development economist where Keshap was born in 1971. Chander Sen married to Zoe Calvert who was in the U.S. Foreign Service in London. She had also served at the U.S. embassy in India.
" My parents’ service and my upbringing instilled in me a firm dedication and commitment to American values, and led me to a career in the Foreign Service,” said Keshap in his hearing on June 23, " Since January, Sri Lanka has made progress on challenging issues, from fighting corruption and media censorship, to beginning the long process of healing after decades of war."
“We want to help the Sri Lankan people strengthen democracy, civil society and human rights, including media freedom and freedom of religion,” Keshapsaid." We want to help build a lasting peace and fellowship among Sri Lanka’s ethnic and religious communities, including credible justice, accountability and reconciliation that can facilitate closure for those who suffered and lost loved ones during the war.”
“We want a better relationship with Maldives, so that we can deepen cooperation. And we want to help it return to the democratic path on which it courageously embarked a few years ago, and look forward to strengthening our relationship when that happens,” Mr. Keshap added. " Maldives faces challenges with youth unemployment, rising extremism, and social unrest."
Atul Keshap confirmed as US envoy to Sri Lanka, Maldives
By Arun Kumar
Washington, Aug 7, 2015: Indian-American Atul Keshap has been confirmed as ambassador to Sri Lanka and the Maldives, making him the second person of Indian decent to be posted to the region after Richard Rahul Verma, the US ambassador to India.
Currently working as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs, a position he has held since 2013, Keshap, 44, was confirmed by the Senate on Wednesday for his first ambassadorial posting.
In his current role, Keshap works closely with Assistant Secretary of State Nisha Biswal, the first Indian-American to lead the bureau, "to coordinate US government policy toward India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, the Maldives and Bhutan".
Now with Keshap's confirmation, Indian Americans would be serving as US envoys in three of eight SAARC nations.
Another Indian American, Puneet Talwar, as the assistant secretary for political-military affairs, serves as a bridge between the State and Defence departments.
And Arun Madhavan Kumar, as assistant secretary of commerce and director general of the US and Foreign Commercial Service, is charged with boosting US trade abroad.
Keshap's father, Keshap Chander Sen, who hailed from Punjab, was working as a UN development economist in Nigeria when Atul was born there on June 29, 1971.
His mother, Zoe Calvert, a US Foreign Service official, met and married Sen in London. Keshap was one of four children who grew up in Lesotho, Zambia, Afghanistan and Austria.
Keshap previously served at the State Department as a US senior official for the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation in the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs from 2012 to 2013.
From 2010 to 2012, he was the Director for India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Bhutan and the Maldives in the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs.
Prior to that, Keshap was Director for UN Human Rights in the Bureau of International Organization Affairs (2008-10) and Deputy Political Counselor at the US Embassy in New Delhi (2005-08).
He served as Director for Near Eastern and North African Affairs in the National Security Council (2003-04) and as Special Assistant to the Under Secretary for Political Affairs (2002-03).
Keshap's earlier assignments with the State Department included postings in Morocco and Guinea. Keshap received a BA and MA from the University of Virginia.....IANS