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Joe Biden nominates Indian-American Uzra Zeya to key State Department position

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Indian American diplomat, Uzra Zeya

Washington: US President-elect Joe Biden has named Uzra Zeya, an Indian-American diplomat who quit her State Department job in protest against the outgoing administration's alleged racial and sexist bias, as his Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights. Zeya joins a long list of India-Americans appointed by Biden as members of his administration.

Confirming the development on Saturday night, Zeya tweeted: "In my 25+years as a diplomat, I learned that America's greatest strength is the power of our example, diversity & democratic ideals. I will uphold and defend these values, if confirmed, as Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights.

"Thank you, President-elect Biden for centering democracy and human rights in US foreign policy and the opportunity to serve the American people once more alongside the heroic women and men at the State Department. It's the honour of a lifetime to be among such all-star nominees." she added

"Zeya will be a champion for putting universal rights and strengthening democracy at the centre of our efforts to meet the challenges of the 21st century," the Biden transition team said while announcing her nomination.

Zeya, who has more than two decades of experience with the Department of State and has expertise in Near East, South Asian, Europe, human rights and multilateral affairs,joined the US Foreign Service in 1990, left the State Department in 2018, alleging that Outgoing President Donald Trump's administration was bent on reversing decades of gains made by minorities and women under secretaries like Colin Powell and Hillary Clinton.

In an article published by Politico, she wrote that "a quieter trend unfolded" under then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson: "the exclusion of minorities from top leadership positions in the State Department and embassies abroad".

In her nearly three-decade-long stint at the State Department, Zeya served in a number of roles, including as Charge d'Affaires and Deputy Chief of Mission at US Embassy in Paris from 2014 to 2017; as Acting Assistant Secretary and Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor from 2012 to 2014; and as Chief of Staff to the Deputy Secretary of State from 2011 to 2012.

She has served as US diplomat in capitals such as New Delhi, Muscat, Damascus, Cairo and Kingston.

Less than 100 hours ahead of his historic inauguration, US President-elect Joe Biden has either nominated or named at least 20 Indian Americans, including 13 women, to key positions in his administration, a new record in itself for this small ethnic community that constitutes one per cent of the country's population. As many as 17 of them would be part of the powerful White House complex.

The January 20th inauguration, the 59th in all, wherein Biden would be sworn in as the 46th President of the United States is already historic in the making as for the first time ever a woman Kamala Harris would be sworn as the vice president of the country.

Harris, 56, is also the first ever Indian-origin and African American to be sworn in as the vice president of the United States.

(With inputs from agencies)


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