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An eventful tenure for Blackwill

July 30, 2003 22:08 IST
Last Updated: July 31, 2003 02:25 IST

US Ambassador to India Robert Blackwill on Wednesday ended an eventful two-year stint in the high-profile job, which saw a giant leap in Indo-US ties.

Blackwill, who took up the job following the change of administration in Washington, may carry back one disappointment -- India's refusal to send troops to Iraq without an explicit United Nations mandate.

                          600,000 visas in the last two years: Blackwill

The envoy had worked hard in the government circles to get this farewell gift before he takes up a crucial assignment believed to be under National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice in Washington. But he said India's decision would not hurt ties between New Delhi and Washington.

Blackwill, a practitioner of proactive diplomacy, was at his best in the immediate aftermath of the September 11, 2001, attacks, which forced the US to adopt a pro-Pakistan line to fight the global war on terror.

Striking a personal relationship with top Indian leaders, he ensured that there was a balance in Indo-US relationship.

Blackwill also forcefully put across to the Bush administration India's legitimate concerns over cross-border terrorism.

With Pakistan emerging as a close ally of the US following 9/11, the line echoed by Blackwill was not taken too kindly by those manning South Asian affairs in the White House.

Known to be frank, he is said to have ruffled feathers in the White House with his consistent line that Pakistan must eschew terrorism.

Recently, Blackwill had, in a television interview, warned Pakistan that if promises made to US President George W Bush were not kept, there would be consequences.

Blackwill had struck an instant chord with the Indian government when he publicly stated that elections in Jammu and Kashmir in September last year were free and fair.

His 'pro-India' remarks irked Islamabad so much that the foreign office chose to summon American Ambassador to Pakistan Wendy Chamberlin and seek an explanation.

Keen to promote Indo-US economic and commercial links, the envoy kept a line of constant communication with Indian business chambers.

He also succeeded in convincing the US administration to lift the sanctions imposed in the wake of the Pokhran nuclear tests.

With queues at the American Embassy visa section growing longer, among the first jobs Blackwill undertook after taking over was to streamline visa operations, making it easier for applicants to complete their formalities.

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