Ambassador Atul Keshap

Vice Chancellor

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Ambassador Atul Keshap is a career United States Senior Foreign Service Officer from Virginia, class of Minister Counselor, serving since August 2018 as the Vice Chancellor of the College of International Security Affairs at the National Defense University, Fort McNair, Washington, DC.   

Prior to his current assignment, Keshap served  from August 2015 to July 2018 as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, and concurrently to the Republic of Maldives, expanding bilateral relations in all spheres of diplomatic, economic, military, strategic, law enforcement, and cultural dimensions, and helping strengthen democracy and human freedoms in both countries. 

Keshap served from 2013 to 2015 as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia, coordinating U.S. Government policy toward India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Maldives, and Bhutan, a diverse region of 1.5 billion people and $2+ trillion in economic output.

From 2012-2013, Keshap served as the United States Senior Official for Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), a trade body whose members generate 55 percent of global GDP. Keshap was responsible for U.S. policy initiatives during the Russia and Indonesia host years and served concurrently as Coordinator for Economic Policy in the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs.

From 2010 to 2012, Keshap was Director of the Office of India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Maldives, and Bhutan Affairs in the State Department’s Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs, managing U.S. foreign policy toward a strategically important and rapidly growing region that comprises a fifth of the world's population.

From 2008 to 2010, Keshap was Director of the Office of Human Rights, Humanitarian, and Social Affairs in the Bureau of International Organizations of the State Department, where he helped lead U.S. efforts to frame multilateral human rights policy with regard to the United Nations system, including instructions to U.S. delegations to the Human Rights Council and the United Nations General Assembly.

Keshap was posted as Deputy Minister Counselor for Political Affairs at the United States Embassy in New Delhi from 2005 to 2008, where he served as a key implementer of the U.S.-India civilian nuclear energy cooperation initiative. He also worked to implement the broader strategic partnership with India at all levels in close coordination with the Indian government while managing a large political reporting and outreach team.

From 2003-2004, Keshap served as Director for North African and Middle Eastern Regional Affairs on the National Security Council staff in the Executive Office of the President. While there, he was responsible for recommendations to the President Bush and National Security Advisor on policy toward Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, and Libya. He also helped finalize the Pan Am 103 settlement with Libya, and facilitated negotiations on the Morocco–United States Free Trade Agreement.

As Special Assistant for the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia from 2002-2003 for the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, he managed his principal's engagement with 25 countries in the Middle East, North Africa, Arabian Peninsula, and South Asia. As Country Desk Officer for the United Arab Emirates and Qatar from 2000-2002, he contributed to efforts to secure basing rights following the terrorist attacks of September 11.

Keshap has also served as an Operations Officer on the executive staff of the Secretary of State and as a political/economic officer at U.S. Embassies in Rabat, Morocco and Conakry, Guinea.

He is the recipient of a Distinguished Honor Award conferred in July 2018 by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, numerous Department of State individual Superior and Meritorious Honor Awards, as well as a certificate of recognition from Secretary of State Colin Powell for duties performed in the State Department Operations Center on September 11, 2001 and afterwards.

Originally from Charlottesville, Virginia, Keshap has also lived in Nigeria, Lesotho, Afghanistan, Zambia, and Austria. He is a graduate of the University of Virginia, where he received his Bachelor’s and Master's degrees. While there, he concentrated on Economics, International Relations, Diplomacy, and Religious Studies, as well as French.

He is married to Karen Young Keshap, who is also a U.S. Foreign Service Officer. They have three daughters and a son.

Keshap has working proficiency in French and speaks some conversational Hindi.