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Foreign Seretary Quits aAfter Gandhi Embarrasses Him in Public

January 20, 1987

NEW DELHI, India (AP) _ Foreign Secretary A.P. Venkateswaran resigned abruptly Tuesday after being publicly embarrassed by Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, official sources reported.

The sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the resignation took effect at noon.

The foreign secretary himself was not immediately available for comment.

Venkateswaran, 56, a former ambassador to China and the top bureaucrat in the Foreign Affairs Ministry, was at a news conference earlier Tuesday when Gandhi told reporters, ″Soon you will be talking to a new foreign secretary.″ Indian news agencies reported the secretary’s humiliation.

Gandhi made the statement when reporters asked him about relations with Pakistan and about a reported statement by Venkateswaran that the prime minister would be visiting Pakistan by the end of the year.

Venkateswaran recently visited Washington and Pakistan for high-level talks. A career diplomat, he was named foreign secretary last March 31.

The foreign minister, N.D. Tiwari, and the minister of state for foreign affairs, K. Natwar Singh, are political appointees who are members of Parliament and of Gandhi’s Cabinet.

Venkateswaran’s previous duties included serving as ambassador to Syria, as permanent representative to the United Nations in Geneva, and as visiting fellow to the Center For International Affairs at Harvard University.

Gandhi increasingly has been criticized in India’s press for an allegedly high-handed manner and for what were viewed as autocratic and unseemly commands to officials.

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