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Envoy shuffle on cards

New Delhi, Feb. 12: South Block is planning a series of shuffles among ambassadors and senior officials over the next few months, which will affect at least 10 senior Indian diplomats

The changes are to be announced in the next few days.

India’s ambassador to the United Arab Emirates, K.C. Singh, is slated to go to Teheran to replace P.S. Haer who is likely to head the mission in Dublin. India’s growing ties with Iran makes Teheran a key area of focus and it is felt that Singh, a Farsi speaker, will do a good job.

Sudhir Vyas, India’s charge d’affaires in Islamabad who was recently asked to leave by Pakistan, is likely to replace Singh in Abu Dhabi. Vyas may not deal with Pakistan directly, but an important part of his assignment in the UAE will be to deal with those who figure in India’s most-wanted list and continue to travel between Karachi and Dubai.

Talmiz Ahmed, India’s ambassador in Saudi Arabia who has in three-and-half-years not only removed some of the obstacles in Indo-Saudi relations but also made Riyadh more interested in India, is slated for a new posting.

Initially, his name was thought of as the ambassador in Syria. But Arif Khan, who was to move to Riyadh from Damascus and did not find Saudi Arabia an attractive posting, thwarted the move. The problem with a posting in Saudi Arabia is that an important part of the ambassador’s duties has to do with Haj pilgrims. This makes it essential that only a Muslim official be posted there.

However, at the moment, there are not many officials in the foreign ministry senior enough to be posted in Riyadh.

The government is thus thinking of posting Kamaluddin Ahmad, a former minister of state and now a member of the Planning Commission, to Saudi Arabia.

Talmiz Ahmed’s name is doing the rounds as head of the mission in Zimbabwe.

Some sections in the ministry pointed out that his vast knowledge of the area and his earlier posting as the number two in South Africa will help re-shape India’s policy there.

However, some feel that Zimbabwe is “too insignificant” a posting for a man of Ahmed’s seniority and competence. The current ambassador in Zimbabwe, A.K. Basu, is due to retire soon.

Arun Mukar, India’s ambassador in Serbia-Montenegro, is likely to go to Chicago as consul-general. Surinder Kumar, the consul in Chicago, is likely to return to headquarters.

India’s ambassador in Azerbaijan, Dinkar Khullar, is likely to move to Bulgaria, replacing Neelima Mitra, who is slated to go to Colombia to head the mission there.

Lavanya Prasad, the ambassador in Laos, is likely to move to Belgrade. S. Topden is likely to move from the consul-general’s post in Frankfurt to replace her in Laos.

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