Former LA mayor Garcetti’s nomination as India envoy advances

Ambassador's position has been empty since January 2021

Eric Garcetti speaks in Inglewood, California, in February 2022 when he was still mayor of Los Angeles. AP
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A Senate committee has voted in favour of former Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti’s nomination to be US ambassador to India, clearing the way for senators to vote despite questions over his handling of a sexual harassment case.

Mr Garcetti’s nomination advanced from the Senate foreign relations committee on a 13-8 vote, with Republicans Todd Young and Bill Hagerty joining Democrats in favour.

Their support means he is likely to get enough votes when the nomination goes before the full Senate.

President Joe Biden nominated Mr Garcetti in July 2021, but his bid stalled as Republicans and some Democrats raised questions about his handling of a sexual harassment case from his time as mayor.

A review led by Senator Chuck Grassley found that Mr Garcetti was “likely” to know or should have known that a former aide had committed sexual harassment and made racist comments.

Mr Garcetti rejected the accusations, and a White House spokesman called the Republican-led report a partisan "hit job".

Mr Biden resubmitted Mr Garcetti’s nomination in January as the White House sought to fill a key job that had been empty since Kenneth Juster resigned when former president Donald Trump left office in January 2021.

The US-India relationship has grown stronger in recent years but remains delicate given Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s crackdown on human rights and his refusal to isolate Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.

While India has had historically close diplomatic and defence relations with Russia, Indian officials have diversified arms purchases in recent years.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken just returned from a visit to India, where he met Indian officials and made a public appearance alongside foreign ministers from the strategic grouping known as the Quad, which comprises the US, India, Australia and Japan.

Updated: March 08, 2023, 10:41 PM