WASHINGTON: US President Barack Obama has nominated Robert Blake as the Assistant Secretary of State for South Asian affairs dealing with India and Pakistan. He will replace Richard Boucher, who has been frequently visiting Pakistan where he was given access to the country’s top leadership and became involved in the country’s internal matters. A Foreign Service officer since 1985, the veteran diplomat was also Deputy Chief of mission at the US Embassy in New Delhi from 2003 to 2006 besides serving at the US Embassies in Tunisia, Algeria, Nigeria and Egypt.
It was not clear whether Blake, who is currently the US ambassador to Sri Lanka, would be in same position as Boucher since President Obama has appointed a high-level special envoy for Pakistan and Afghanistan-Richard Holbrooke.
Blake will hold the new office after the US Senate confirms him. As a US Assistant Secretary to South Asia, Blake will also deal with Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka.
He also has held a number of positions at the State Department in Washington. Besides earning a Bachelor of Arts from Harvard College in 1980, Blake acquired a Masters in International Relations from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) in 1984. Under his current service as the Ambassador to Sri Lanka, the veteran diplomat asked that Lankan officials to rescue the civilians from LTTE. The rebel group is engaged in civil war for the past 26 years.
Input from Agencies