Diplomat who shepherded India-U.S. nuclear deal but is Modi critic named CIA chief

New York: President-elect Joe Biden has named William Burns, who guided the nuclear deal between India and the US but is a strong critic of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, to be the director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

A former deputy secretary of state and a senior director for Near East and South Asian affairs at the National Security Council, and now the president of Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Burns emphasized the importance of relations with India while criticizing Modi over Kashmir and the Citizenship Amendment Act.

But he has also acknowledged that “outsiders” cannot resolve these issues.

“I continue to believe strongly in the wisdom of the strategic investment that America and India have made in each other’s success over the past two decades,” Burns wrote last year in an article in The Atlantic magazine.

The US-India civil-nuclear agreement was reached in 2008 while Manmohan Singh was the prime minister and George W. Bush the U.S. president. It enables the two countries to cooperate on civilian nuclear projects and India to have broader access to nuclear technology and materials.

Burns recalled strong-arming European allies to go along with the exemption for India from the Nuclear Supplier Group to enable it to get access to nuclear material and equipment.

As the U.S. grapples with the rise of China and its hostility to Washington’s treaty allies in Asia, Burns will have to balance his nation’s strategic priorities with his personal attitude towards Modi and India that he expressed as the head of a liberal think tank.

Drawing on his experience of working with New Delhi, Burns wrote in what could be his roadmap for relations between New Delhi and Washington, emphasizing continuity saying that it was bigger than the ties between President Donald Trump and Modi.

Image courtesy of (Official Photo)

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