ISLAMABAD - Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry will fly to Washington this month to replace outgoing ambassador Syed Jalil Abbas Jilani, official sources said on Tuesday.

The officials at the Foreign Ministry said the summary of Chaudhry’s appointment as ambassador to US had been approved by the government. Jilani, on extension, will retire this month after completing his contract.

“The government has approved Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry’s name as the next ambassador to the US. He will take charge soon,” said an official at the Foreign Ministry.

The sources said Pakistan’s permanent representative at the United Nations' Geneva Mission Tehmina Janjua was the favourite to become the foreign secretary. Others in the race are High Commissioner to United Kingdom Syed Ibn-e-Abbas and envoy to India Abdul Basit.

The new ambassador to the US will take charge almost simultaneously with Donald Trump’s inauguration as the US President.

Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhry has been chosen from among a few candidates for his diplomatic skills to deal with the Americans in Washington. The government had wanted veteran Jilani to continue so that Azizaz Ahmed Chaudhry could keep the foreign secretary’s job but Jilani refused extension after the expiry of his contract.

Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhry earlier served as a political counsellor in Pakistani embassy in the US. The incumbent foreign secretary represented the country in the United Nations for more than six years. 

Chaudhry also served Pakistan’s ambassador to Netherlands from 2009-2012. Tehmina Janjua is also known as a qualified diplomat and has held several important positions in the past.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had in principle approved Chauhdry’s name as ambassador to the US some weeks earlier. “The decision to appoint a new foreign secretary will be made when the PM returns from Switzerland (where he is attending the World Economic Forum),” said a government official.