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Bush opts for top economist as envoy
- Credit Suisse chairman’s nomination marks change in priorities

New Delhi, Nov. 14: US President George W. Bush has appointed economist David Campbell Mulford new ambassador to India, indicating that more emphasis will now be placed on improving bilateral economic and trade ties.

“The President intends to nominate David Campbell Mulford of Illinois to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to India,” said a statement issued by the White House this morning.

Even though Bush has nominated Mulford – international chairman of Credit Suisse First Boston - the US Senate is yet to approve his candidature. Only then can the economist take up his new assignment.

The US ambassador’s post has been lying vacant since July when Robert Blackwill left to join the National Security Council as strategic advisor to the national security adviser Condoleeza Rice.

It is not clear how soon Mulford will be able to take up his new job. Sources said unless his name is approved before Senate goes into recess on November 21, Mulford might not be able to come to Delhi before January. The appointment would still need to be approved by the Senate.

Mulford, a member of the CSFB executive board in London, earlier served as chairman and chief executive officer (Europe) for the same corporation. He has also served as treasury undersecretary for international affairs and was assistant secretary for international affairs at the same department.

The economist holds a Ph.D. from Oxford University, earned his master’s degree from Boston University and graduated from Lawrence University, Wisconsin in 1959.

India has not yet officially reacted to news of Mulford’s nomination. South Block officials said by nominating an economist for the post Washington wished to signal that it wanted to give a push to economic cooperation with India.

But though his credentials as an economist are impeccable, it is unclear how important a political role Mulford would be able to play.

The Securities and Exchange Board of India had banned the local brokerage operation of CSFB for two years in 2001 for alleged manipulation of the stock market. The ban expired in April.

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