US envoy for South Asia Alice Wells retires

Foreign Desk Report

Washington: The acting top US diplomat for South Asia announced her retirement on Sunday, as President Donald Trump looks increasingly likely to go a full term without a Senate-confirmed State Department official focused on the subcontinent.
Alice Wells, a career diplomat who has served as acting assistant secretary of state for South and Central Asia for most of the Trump administration, will retire on May 22 after a 31-year career, the State Department said. “I will miss Alice’s wise counsel and dedicated efforts to build relationships and address challenges across South and Central Asia,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo wrote on Twitter. The new acting assistant secretary will be Tom Vajda, a veteran US diplomat on South Asia who was earlier consul general in Mumbai, a State Department spokesperson said.
Trump has called for a close relationship with India and has bonded with Narendra Modi, including on a visit to the country in February. But under Trump, South and Central Asia has been the only region of the world yet to have a full-fledged assistant secretary of state confirmed by the Senate. With six months to go before presidential elections and all eyes on the coronavirus crisis, the chances look slim that an assistant secretary will be nominated.