Atul Keshap confirmed as US envoy to Sri Lanka, Maldives

Washington (IANS): Indian-American Atul Keshap has been confirmed as ambassador to Sri Lanka and the Maldives, making him the second person of Indian decent to be posted to the region after Richard Rahul Verma, the US ambassador to India.

Currently working as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs, a position he has held since 2013, Keshap, 44, was confirmed by the Senate on Wednesday for his first ambassadorial posting.

In his current role, Keshap works closely with Assistant Secretary of State Nisha Biswal, the first Indian-American to lead the bureau, “to coordinate US government policy toward India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, the Maldives and Bhutan”.

Now with Keshap’s confirmation, Indian Americans would be serving as US envoys in three of eight SAARC nations.

Another Indian American, Puneet Talwar, as the assistant secretary for political-military affairs, serves as a bridge between the State and Defence departments.

And Arun Madhavan Kumar, as assistant secretary of commerce and director general of the US and Foreign Commercial Service, is charged with boosting US trade abroad.

Keshap’s father, Keshap Chander Sen, who hailed from Punjab, was working as a UN development economist in Nigeria when Atul was born there on June 29, 1971.

His mother, Zoe Calvert, a US Foreign Service official, met and married Sen in London. Keshap was one of four children who grew up in Lesotho, Zambia, Afghanistan and Austria.

Keshap previously served at the State Department as a US senior official for the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation in the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs from 2012 to 2013.

From 2010 to 2012, he was the Director for India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Bhutan and the Maldives in the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs.

Prior to that, Keshap was Director for UN Human Rights in the Bureau of International Organization Affairs (2008-10) and Deputy Political Counselor at the US Embassy in New Delhi (2005-08).

He served as Director for Near Eastern and North African Affairs in the National Security Council (2003-04) and as Special Assistant to the Under Secretary for Political Affairs (2002-03).

Keshap’s earlier assignments with the State Department included postings in Morocco and Guinea. Keshap received a BA and MA from the University of Virginia.