(Reuters) – The U.S. ambassador to India has resigned and will return to the United States after less than two years, the embassy said in a statement on Monday, following a diplomatic row that strained relations between the world’s biggest democracies.
The statement did not give a reason why Ambassador Nancy Powell had resigned, saying only that she was retiring from the foreign service after 37 years, “as planned for some time”.
Powell is a career diplomat who has held several postings in South Asia and became the ambassador to India in 2012.
Last month, she ended a decade-long boycott and brought Washington’s policy in line with other major powers by meeting Narendra Modi, the opposition candidate who is favorite to become India’s next prime minister after elections that end in May.
But her tenure was marred by a row over the arrest and subsequent strip search of an Indian diplomat in New York. Indian took retaliatory measures against the embassy, including removing some of the ambassador’s travel privileges.
Trade relations have also deteriorated over the past two years.
She will return to the United States before the end of May, the deadline for a new Indian government to be formed.
The United States revoked Modi’s travel visa following allegations he did not do enough to prevent some 2,000 deaths during a spasm of Hindu-Muslim violence in 2002 in the state that he governs.
Modi has not yet been granted a visa, but earlier in March, Nisha Biswal, the U.S. assistant secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs, said he would be welcome to visit the United States if he became prime minister.