Senior diplomat Vijay Keshav Gokhale, who is considered an expert on China, was named India’s new foreign secretary on Monday evening. Gokhale will succeed S Jaishankar, who completes his extended tenure later this month.
Gokhale, a 1981-batch officer of the Indian Foreign Service (IFS), had played a key role in India-China negotiations last year to resolve the 73-day standoff between the Indian Army and the Chinese People’s Liberation Army at Doklam Plateau, a tri-junction between Sino-India and Bhutanese border near Sikkim.
58-year-old Gokhale, who is at present secretary (Economic Relations) in the Ministry of External Affairs, was India’s Ambassador to China from January 20, 2016 to October 21, 2017.
The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi approved the appointment of Gokhale to the post of foreign secretary in place of Jaishankar, who completes his term on January 28, said the order issued by the Department of Personnel and Training(DoPT).
Jaishankar was given a one-year extension in January last year.
Gokhale will have a two-year term as per the rules.
Gokhale has also served as India’s top envoy to Germany between October 2013 and January 2016. He has worked in Indian missions in Hong Kong, Hanoi, Beijing and in New York.
He has held the posts of director (China and East Asia) and then joint secretary (East Asia) in the MEA. Jaishankar was appointed foreign secretary in January 2015, for two years, just a few days before his retirement, replacing Sujata Singh, whose term was abruptly curtailed by the government.
(With inputs from agencies)