New US diplomat for South Asia designated.


Byline: Anwar Iqbal

WASHINGTON -- Deputy Assistant Secretary Thomas L. Vajda will look after South Asian affairs at the US State Department when current chief diplomat for the region, Alice G. Wells, retires on May 22, the department confirmed on Monday.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the change in a tweet on Sunday afternoon, saying: 'I will miss Alice's wise counsel and dedicated efforts to build relationships and address challenges across South and Central Asia.'

'I personally came to admire Ambassador Wells' dedication to our team's mission and her dogged pursuit of American excellence. We commend her service and wish her the best,' he wrote.

In a message to Dawn, the State Department confirmed that Ms Wells would retire on May 22 and Mr Vajda 'will serve as the South and Central Asian Bureau's senior bureau official on an interim basis.'

'In her current role, Ambassador Wells has been instrumental in strengthening diplomatic and economic relationships across the region and navigating challenging international crises,' the department added.

Ms Wells, a career diplomat, has served as an acting assistant secretary of state for South and Central Asia for most of the period of Trump administration. During her 31-year association with the State Department, Ms Wells also served as a political officer at the US embassies in both New Delhi and Islamabad.

Mr Vajda's resume, posted on the State Department's website, shows that he was the US Consul General in Mumbai from 2014 to 2017 but he never served in Pakistan.

As deputy assistant secretary for South Asia, Mr Vajda oversees US policy towards...

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