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SOURCE: Prime News, International

 US President-elect Joe Biden on Monday named William Burns, who guided the nuclear deal between India and the US but is a strong critic of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, to be the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

A former Deputy Secretary of State and a senior director for Near East and South Asian affairs at the National Security Council, and now the President of the think tank Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, he emphasised the importance of relations with India while criticising Modi over Kashmir and the Citizenship Amendment Act.

But he has also acknowledged that “outsiders” cannot resolve these issues.

“I continue to believe strongly in the wisdom of the strategic investment that America and India have made in each other’s success over the past two decades,” Burns wrote last year in an article in The Atlantic magazine.

Recalling his role in bringing about the landmark agreement, he wrote: “I was the diplomat charged with completing the US-India civil-nuclear dealing the summer and fall of 2008.”

The agreement reached while Manmohan Singh was the Prime Minister and George W. Bush the US President enables the two countries to cooperate on civilian nuclear projects and India to have broader access to nuclear technology and materials.

Burns recalled strong-arming European allies to go along with the exemption for India from the Nuclear Supplier Group to enable it to get access to nuclear material and equipment.

“This was about power, and we were exercising it – hardly endearing ourselves to groggy (European) partners, but impressing our Indian counterparts with the strength of America’s commitment to get this done,” he wrote.

As the US grapples with the rise of China and its hostility to Washington’s treaty allies in Asia, Burns will have to balance his nation’s strategic priorities with his personal attitude to Modi and India that he expressed as the head of a liberal think tank.

The announcement of the appointment by Biden’s transition office mentioned the threat from China.

It said, “Whether it’s cyber attacks emanating from Moscow, the challenge China poses, or the threat we face from terrorists and other non-state actors, he has the experience and skill to marshal efforts across government and around the world to ensure the CIA is positioned to protect the American people.” (MR, Inputs: Agencies).