S Jaishankar gets one-year extension as India’s Foreign Secretary

New Delhi: Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar, whose tenure was to end on January 28, today got a one-year extension.

The nod for the extension of his tenure till January 28, 2018 was given by the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet, official sources said.

A 1977-IFS batch officer, Jaishankar was appointed Foreign Secretary on January 29, 2015 just few days before his retirement replacing Sujata Singh, whose term was abruptly curtailed by the government.

With Jaishankar getting the extension, many senior diplomats including India’s ambassador to Italy Anil Wadhwa (1979-batch) and Secretary (West) Sujata Mehta (1980-batch) will retire without getting a shot at the top position.

India’s ambassador to China, Vijay Gokhale, seen as one of the main contenders to replace Jaishankar, is retiring in the end of January 2019. And with Jaishankar getting a one-year term, it leaves Gokhale in the race for the top diplomatic position in the External Affairs Ministry.

The coming month will also see a number of key appointments in the External Affairs Ministry with Vikas Swarup, Additional Secretary and Spokesperson in the Ministry, on his way to Canada as High Commissioner. He is waiting for his official agreement to come from Ottawa which is likely by the month end.

The post is lying vacant after Vishnu Prakash retired in October.

Swarup is expected to be replaced by Gopal Baglay, currently looking after (Pakistan-Iran-Afghanistan) in the ministry. Baglay has earlier also had a stint in the XP division of the MEA as Director from 2008 to 2010.

In first half of 2017, ambassadorial positions will also open up in several key countries including Germany and Nepal.