WASHINGTON: US President Joe Biden’s ‘s nominee to be ambassador to New Delhi Eric Garcetti trod cautiously on two sensitive issues at a confirmation hearing on Tuesday, pledging to be respectful in raising human rights issues and implicitly suggesting that Washington, more immediately, could give India a pass on sanctions over its acquisition of a missile defense system from Russia before weaning it away from its Moscow orientation in arms purchase.
“I don’t want to prejudge the Secretary (of State)’s decision about sanctions or a waiver. I do fully support the law of the land, the implementation of CAATSA as law here and part of that is the waiver provision,” Garcetti told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee at a two-hour long hearing, asserting that if confirmed, he would advocate the continued diversification of India’s weapons system, and the threats to US own weapons systems due to India’s Russia orientation.
Garcetti also promised to raise human rights issues as a “core piece” of his engagement, while indirectly acknowledging US ambassador’ own sketchy record on the matter. “There’s no question that the US-India relationship should be underpinned by our common commitment to democracy, human rights and to civil society…If confirmed, I will actively raise these issues. I’ll raise them with humility. It’s a two-way street on these, but I intend to engage directly with civil society,” he said.