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External Affairs Minister Jaishankar says, proud to follow in Sushma Swaraj's footsteps

News Agencies | Updated on: 1 June 2019, 13:16 IST

Engaging with the Twitterverse for the first time, newly appointed External Affairs Minister (EAM) Subrahmanyam Jaishankar paid homage to his predecessor Sushma Swaraj on Saturday.

"My first tweet. Thank you all for the best wishes! Honoured to be given this responsibility. Proud to follow on the footsteps of @SushmaSwaraj ji," Jaishankar's first tweet read.

A surprise addition to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's latest Union Cabinet, the former Foreign Secretary succeeds Swaraj in helming the Ministry of External Affairs for the next five years under the NDA government.

Swaraj opted out of contesting in the recently concluded Lok Sabha elections citing her health. She spearheaded various rescue operations during her term, including those in Libya and Yemen. The former EAM was much-loved by people for being one of the most approachable ministers, known for hearing out and solving grievances on Twitter.

Jaishankar pledged to follow the precedent set by her, and tweeted, "We at Team @MEAIndia continue to be at your service 24x7. Happy to be leading the effort with my colleague MoS Muraleedharan ji."

The EAM went on to express his gratitude for the wishes extended by his counterparts from Australia, France and Indonesia, who tweeted their greetings for the former top diplomat.

Both Jaishankar and the new Minister of State for External Affairs, V Muraleedharan, assumed office on May 31, following the official announcement regarding portfolio allocations.

"Back at South Block, in a new role! The new External Affairs Minister of India @DrSJaishankar assumes office," MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar tweeted on Friday.

A former career diplomat, the 1977-batch IFS officer and Padma Shri awardee served as the Foreign Secretary for three years - from 2015 until his retirement in 2018 - under Modi's previous term as Prime Minister.

He had earlier served as India's Ambassador to China and then to the US. The incumbent EAM has previously been India's Ambassador to the Czech Republic and High Commissioner to Singapore as well. He was also the First Secretary and Political Advisor to the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) in Sri Lanka.

It is believed that Modi first met Jaishankar when he travelled to China as the Chief Minister of Gujarat in 2012.

The former diplomat played a critical role in handling tough negotiations with Beijing, following the incursion in Doklam and Ladakh's Depsang.

He is also known as the Indian government's key strategist for China and the US. In 2008, Jaishankar was a member of the team which negotiated the landmark Indo-US nuclear deal under the UPA government headed by then-Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

First published: 1 June 2019, 13:16 IST