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The Next US Ambassador to India?

Image: The Next US Ambassador to India?
(Rex Features via AP Images)

By    |   Monday, 03 Jul 2017 09:14 AM

The position for United States ambassador to India has yet to be filled, but recent reports in both The Washington Post and The Washington Times suggest businessman Shalabh Kumar may be on President Donald Trump's short list.

At first glance, the scenario of an Indian-born and Hindi-fluent ambassador from the United States is surprising. The U.S. envoy to New Delhi has, more often than not, been a name diplomat such as Ellsworth Bunker, later the wartime ambassador to Vietnam, or celebrity academic such as economist John Kenneth Galbraith or future New York Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan or politician, former New York Sen. Kenneth Keating or former U.S. Attorney General William Saxbe.

Kumar is different. An integral player in helping Donald Trump reach Hindu-American voters during the 2016 election, he maintains a good professional and personal relationship with the President.

"[President Trump] has kept every one of his promises and we are quite happy in the Hindu-American community," he told Newsmax.

Newsmax asked Kumar if he has been in contact with the Trump administration concerning the U.S. ambassador to India appointment and when a decision on the matter will be reached.

"I am not at liberty to talk about that," Kumar replied. "With respect to a specific position, being an ambassador and so forth, that is up to the president to decide where I could provide that significant service to our nation."

He quickly added, however, that "in general, I have constant contact with the Trump administration." He added that he "meet[s] and talk[s] to them quite regularly"—"them" being White House chief of staff Reince Priebus, top advisers Steve Bannon and Stephen Miller, Vice President Mike Pence, and the president himself.

Affectionately known as "Shalli" to his friends, Shalabh Kumar made a significant contribution to Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign. Not only did he launch the popular "Ab Ki Baar Trump Sarkar" ad campaign, which featured candidate Trump speaking in Hindi, but he also spent countless hours campaigning for the candidate in battleground states.

Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the House, previously described him as "a man deeply dedicated to bringing together the best interests of India and the best interests of the United States."

At the October 2016 Humanity Against Terror Charity Event, Trump referred to Kumar as a "good friend" and a "great guy."

Kumar is not shy about making a case for why he would perform well in New Delhi.

"It will be relatively easy for me to push this trade agenda of four trillion dollars and on top of that, I speak Hindi," he said, adding that he speaks four Hindi dialects in India and was born there and lived there for 20 years.

But Kumar stopped short of calling himself the best person for the ambassadorship and insists he would be eager to help whoever is chosen for the position.

"The ultimate goal that goes beyond individuals, beyond people, beyond even [Indian] Prime Minister Modi and Donald Trump is the interest of the two nations," he said. "There is no question that the United States and India should be absolute best friends and closest allies."

Newsmax reached out to the White House for a comment, but no one responded to the email request.

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The position for United States ambassador to India has yet to be filled, but recent reports in both The Washington Post and The Washington Times suggest businessman Shalabh Kumar may be on President Donald Trump's short list.
india, ambassador, kumar, trump
538
2017-14-03
Monday, 03 Jul 2017 09:14 AM
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