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AMBASSADOR BIDS FAREWELL TO WASHINGTON

Washington, DC

Ambassador Meera Shankar completed her assignment as Ambassador of India to the United States on 31 July 2011.

        The U.S. Department of State hosted a reception to bid her farewell on 26th July 2011, which was attended by senior members of the U.S. Administration and other key Ambassadors.  Ambassador Meera Shankar also called on the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in her office.   The Secretary of State said, " On behalf of the American people and the Obama Administration, I extend my best wishes to you as your celebrated tenure as the ambassador of India comes to an end.  I thank you for your service and remain deeply grateful to you for helping to strengthen the important partnership between our two countries. "

        The Indian Community of the Greater Washington Area hosted a reception for the Ambassador on 24th July, at which Ambassador Robert Blake, Jr., Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Bureau was the keynote speaker.  Ambassador Blake highlighted the immense contribution made by his friend, Ambassador Shankar, in serving India's interests in Washington in an energetic and innovative manner. He and his colleagues in the State Department worked closely and cohesively with Ambassador Shankar and her team in advancing India-US ties through this period of intense and broad-based engagement, which covered two state visits, two rounds of the Strategic Dialogue, and many other Ministerial visits and dialogues. He found Ambassador Shankar's outreach in Washington striking.

                Ambassador Shankar hosted two receptions on 25th July 2011 and on 28th July 2011 for the Indian American community and her American interlocutors respectively.  The Indian American community was represented by all the leading associations in the Greater Washington Area and from across the country.  The Governors of Maryland and Alabama also sent special citations to Ambassador Shankar for promoting ties between India and their states.

            The reception on 28th July 2011 was attended by over 200 guests including Deputy Secretary of Energy Daniel Poneman,  Deputy Secretary of State for Political Affairs William Burns, Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, Under Secretary of State for Economic, Energy and Agricultural Affairs Robert Hormats, Congressman John Larson, Administrator of USAID Rajiv Shah, and other senior representatives from the US Government, US Congress, business organizations, universities and think tanks.

                Ambassador Shankar thanked the guests for all their support and cooperation in advancing the India-U.S. Strategic Partnership.   She recalled the very successful visit of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to the US in November 2009 and President Obama’s visit to India in November 2010 and outlined the growth of the relationship between the two countries, which at its present level, touches all aspects of human endeavour.  She recalled various incidents during her tenure as Ambassador in Washington, which not only added strength to the relationship between India and the United States, but also gave flavour to the life of a diplomat.  Recollecting the contributions of friends from all walks of life - political, diplomatic, cultural, literary, business, academic and others, Ambassador Shankar said that every step had added to the further strengthening of the relationship and expressed her gratitude for all their encouragement and support.

                In his remarks, Deputy Secretary of Energy Daniel Poneman spoke highly of Ambassador Shankar. He said that in his long experience of dealing with foreign dignitaries, he had found her to be one of the most effective and influential diplomats that he had come across. She was always well-prepared, eloquent and at the same time reasonable as she pursued her country's interests. During her tenure, India-US relations underwent a historic transformation. Her personal contribution to this was significant. She would be missed in Washington.

                Under Secretary Hormats said that representing India in the United States is a challenging task and that Ambassador Shankar had been very successful in doing so not only with all branches of the government but also with the Congress and Senate, the business community, think tanks and the media. She travelled extensively across the United States and projected India even to those who had very little knowledge of the country and its achievements, in a very clear, positive and convincing manner.  He said that he personally admired and wished her well for the future.

                Ambassador was also presented with a flag of the United States of America, which was flown over the Capitol building specially for her in recognition of her achievements as Ambassador of India to the United States, along with a certificate confirming this by the Congress, sent by Congressman Ed Royce, the co-chair of the India Caucus in the House of Representatives.