US Senate advances Los Angeles Mayor Garcetti as Biden’s India envoy

Eric Garcetti – who supported Mr Biden’s presidential campaign – set to be ambassador to India, while career diplomat advances as the US envoy to Pakistan

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti speaks after a tour of the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach during a press conference at the port of Long Beach on January 11, 2022. AFP

The US Senate on Wednesday advanced the nomination of Los Angeles’ Democratic Mayor Eric Garcetti to serve as President Joe Biden’s ambassador to India.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee agreed by voice vote to advance Mr Garcetti’s nomination alongside 12 other nominees, paving the way for a full confirmation vote on the Senate floor.

Mr Garcetti became the youngest person to serve as mayor of Los Angeles in 2013 and served as national co-chair of Mr Biden’s 2020 presidential campaign.

Although Mr Garcetti does not have significant diplomatic experience, US presidents frequently award plum ambassadorial posts to their political supporters. Mr Biden nominated Mr Garcetti for the post in July.

The nominees that the Foreign Relations Committee advanced on Wednesday also include David Blome to serve as ambassador to India’s rival Pakistan. A career diplomat, Mr Blome currently serves as the US ambassador to Tunisia.

Mr Biden nominated Mr Blome for the Pakistan ambassadorship in October but has yet to name a replacement to serve as ambassador to Tunisia amid concerns over democratic backsliding in Tunis sparked by President Kais Saied’s increasing consolidation of executive power after abolishing parliament last year.

Both India and Pakistan represent increasingly important ambassadorial posts as the Biden administration looks to divert much of its attention to countering China in the Pacific while coping with the fallout from last year’s chaotic US withdrawal from Afghanistan.

The United States has increasingly relied on the Quad, a group of security partners that includes India, Australia and Japan, to push back against Chinese influence in the region.

Mr Biden hosted the Quad leaders at a White House summit in September.

Updated: January 12th 2022, 5:01 PM