US Senate confirms ambassadors to Afghanistan, India

Updated: 2014-12-10 08:53


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WASHINGTON - The US Senate confirmed President Barack Obama's nominees to be the next American ambassadors to India and Afghanistan on Tuesday, filling two of the country's most important diplomatic posts days before leaving Washington for the year.

By unanimous voice votes, the Senate approved former State Department official Richard Rahul Verma as US ambassador to India and Peter Michael McKinley to be the ambassador in Kabul.

Verma, who is Indian-American, will replace Nancy Powell, who resigned in March after a damaging dispute over the treatment of a junior Indian diplomat in the United States.

He served as assistant secretary of state for legislative affairs at the State Department in the Obama administration from 2009 to 2011.

The United States sees India as a natural ally on a range of issues and a potential counterbalance to an increasingly assertive China in Asia and is eager to expand relations across the board, particularly in the security sphere.

McKinley, a career diplomat who has also served as US ambassador in Colombia and Peru, is currently the deputy ambassador in Afghanistan, where the United States is currently drawing down its forces after 12 years of war.

The White House has been fighting with the Senate all year to get its nominees confirmed more quickly. The last days of the current legislative session have been marked by a flurry of confirmations. A new Senate, in which Republicans will hold a majority of seats, will be seated in January.