Obama nominates Indian-American to key State Department post

Washington, Sep 11 (IANS) President Barack Obama has nominated Puneet Talwar, a noted Indian-American Middle East policy specialist to a key diplomatic post as the assistant secretary of state for political military affairs.

Talwar has been a Special Assistant to the US President and Senior Director for Iran, Iraq and the Gulf states on the White House National Security Staff since 2009.

Nominating him along with several others to key administration posts Tuesday, Obama said: "I am grateful that these talented and dedicated individuals have agreed to take on these important roles and devote their talents to serving the American people. I look forward to working with them in the coming months and years."

In his new job at the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, State Department's principal link with the Defence Department, Talwar will provide policy direction in the areas of international security, security assistance, military operations, defence strategy and plans, and defence trade.

In July, Obama had nominated another Indian American, Nisha Desai Biswal,currently assistant administrator for Asia in the US Agency for International Development, to succeed Robert Blake as assistant secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs.

Both Talwar and Biswal need to be confirmed by the Senate. Once confirmed they along with Dr Raj Shah, Administrator, USAID, the highest ranking Indian American in the Obama administration, will constitute a powerful triumvirate of Indian Americans at the State Department.

Talwar had earlier served as a senior professional staff member on the committee on Foreign Relations of the United States Senate (SFRC) from 2001 to 2009.

From 1997 to 1999, he was the chief advisor on the Middle East to vice president Joseph R Biden, who was then the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Talwar served as a member of the Department of State's Policy Planning Staff from 1999 to 2001. From 1992 to 1995, he served as a foreign policy advisor to House member Thomas C Sawyer and from 1990 to 1992, as an official with the United Nations.

Talwar received a BS from Cornell University and an MA from Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs.

Earlier this year, Foreign Policy magazine named Talwar as one of the 50 Most Powerful Democrats in Foreign Policy.

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at arun.kumar@ians.in)

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