Washington, Jul 10 (PTI) Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, nominated by US President Joe Biden as the country's ambassador to India, has said that he is honoured to accept the nomination and will bring the same energy, commitment and love with which he served the sprawling city to his new role in the world's largest democracy.
If confirmed by the Senate, Garcetti, 50, would replace Kenneth Juster, who served as the US Ambassador to India during the Trump administration.
'Today, the President announced that I am his nominee to serve as US Ambassador to India. I am honoured to accept his nomination to serve in this role,' Garcetti, a Democrat, said in a statement on Friday soon after Biden announced his nomination.
Announcing the nomination along with several other ambassadors, the White House said Eric M. Garcetti has been the Mayor of the City of Los Angeles since 2013, following 12 years as a member of the City Council, including six as Council President. Biden also nominated Denise Campbell Bauer as his envoy to Monaco; Peter D. Haas to Bangladesh; and Bernadette M. Meehan as his top diplomat to Chile.
'I love Los Angeles and will always be an Angeleno. I want you to know that every day I am your Mayor, I will continue to lead this city like it is my first day on the job, with passion, focus, and determination,' Garcetti said in a statement.
'I have committed my life to service –– as an activist, as a teacher, as a naval officer, as a public servant, and if confirmed, next as an ambassador. Part of that commitment means that when your nation calls, you answer that call,' he said.
'And should I be confirmed, I’ll bring this same energy, commitment, and love for this city to my new role and will forge partnerships and connections that will help Los Angeles,' Garcetti, who is considered to be a close ally of President Biden, said.
Garcetti, in an interview to the Los Angeles Times, said the Biden administration raised the idea of the India post in the early spring. The White House called him Thursday to finalise his nomination, he said.
He has travelled several times to India, most recently as a councilman. In college, he spent a year studying Hindi and Urdu.
“It’s the largest democracy in the world, soon to be the most populous country in the world, one of the top handful of superpowers in the world,” Garcetti said.
“We can’t get our climate goals without India hitting its climate goals. We can’t see the economy truly reopened to international commerce and tourism until COVID is under control,” Garcetti said on Friday. “We’re all very closely connected,” he told the Times.
As Mayor of California's largest city and America's second-largest city, Garcetti oversees the busiest container port in the Western Hemisphere, the largest municipal utility in the country, and one of the busiest airports in the world. He led the city's successful bid to return the 2028 summer Olympic Games to American soil for the first time in three decades.
Garcetti co-founded Climate Mayors and led more than 400 US mayors to adopt the Paris Climate agreement. He is the current Chair of C40 Cities – a network of 97 of the world's biggest cities taking bold climate action and has led the organisation's engagement and expansion in India as well as C40's global response to the COVID pandemic through the sharing of best practices and resources.
During 12 years as an Intelligence Officer in the U.S. Navy Reserve Component, Garcetti served under the Commander, US Pacific Fleet and the Defence Intelligence Agency, retiring in 2017 as a Lieutenant.
A Rhodes Scholar, he studied at Queen's College, Oxford and the London School of Economics and Political Science. Garcetti was selected as an inaugural Asia 21 Fellow of the Asia Society, and taught at Occidental College’s Department of Diplomacy and World Affairs, as well as at the University of Southern California's School of International Relations.
Commenting on his nomination, the Los Angeles Times wrote that the ambassadorship in President Biden’s administration gives Garcetti a new career path, away from electoral politics.
Meanwhile, influential lawmakers and eminent members of the Indian-American community have welcomed Garcetti's nomination as America's next envoy to India.
“Mayor Garcetti is an excellent choice to serve as US ambassador to India. The importance of India to the global economy and national security will only continue to grow over the coming years - and having a steady hand to guide our relationship with that nation is vital,” Senator Dianne Feinstein said.
Biden’s nomination of Garcetti is an important step forward in the US-India partnership as the two countries work together to end the pandemic, increase economic cooperation, and ensure regional security, Indian-American Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi said.
“Mayor Garcetti’s experience in leading Los Angeles while championing international cooperation between the world’s leading cities will undoubtedly serve him well as he helps strengthens the relationship between the world’s largest democracy and its oldest,” he said.
The choice of Garcetti is a mark of how keen the Biden administration is on establishing strong ties with India, said M R Rangaswami, a Silicon Valley-based entrepreneur and investor, about the Los Angeles Mayor's nomination.
Rangaswami said Garcetti has a strong track record as the mayor of America’s second largest city and a personal connection with Biden.
“Both of these will be significant assets as he plays a leading role in the efforts to further strengthen US-India ties and we at Indiaspora are delighted with this development,' he said.
“As Co-Chair of the Congressional India Caucus, I look forward to working with Garcetti to strengthen the relationship between the world’s oldest and largest democracies,” said Congressman Brad Sherman.
Indiaspora, a nonprofit organisation of global Indian diaspora leaders, in a statement said Garcetti would bring valuable political and administrative experience to the role.
“A close political confidante of President Biden who served as a Co-chair of his campaign in 2020, Garcetti also would have the President's ear,” it said.
“Ambassadorship to India is a critical position for strengthening ties between the world’s largest and the world’s oldest democracy, and President Biden has made an excellent choice in Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti,” said IMPACT executive director, Neil Makhija. PTI LKJ RS AKJ