Obama taps Nisha Biswal for State’s South Asia bureau

US President Barack Obama has nominated an Indian-American woman as America's new point person for South Asia to succeed Robert Blake.

If confirmed by the Senate, Nisha Desai Biswal, who is currently the Assistant Administrator for Asia at the US Agency for International Development will replace incumbent Blake to head the South Asia bureau in the US State Department.

Desai is expected to become the first person of Indian-origin to head the bureau, which oversees United States foreign policy and relations with India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Maldives and Bhutan.

Biswal's nomination by Obama Thursday came along with announcements for seven other senior administration level positions.

"It gives me great confidence that such dedicated and capable individuals have agreed to join this Administration to serve the American people. I look forward to working with them in the months and years to come," Obama said in a statement.

Biswal, who received a BA degree from the University of Virginia, has been the Assistant Administrator for Asia at the USAID, since September 2010.

Although Afghanistan and Pakistan come under the South and Central Asia Bureau of the State Department, they, however, are handled by the Special US Representatives for Afghanistan and Pakistan, the designation currently held by Jim Dobbins.

From 2005 to 2010, Biswal was the Majority Clerk for the State Department and Foreign Operations Subcommittee on the Committee on Appropriations in the US House of Representatives. From 2002 to 2005, she served as the Policy and Advocacy Director at InterAction.

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