Ambassador Leela K. Ponappa was the Deputy National Security Advisor and Secretary, National Security Council Secretariat from 2007-2009. Ambassador Ponappa, a career diplomat, joined the Indian Foreign Service in 1970. Her last appointment was as Ambassador to the Netherlands and Permanent Representative to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. She was also Ambassador to Thailand and Permanent Representative of India to the UNESCAP (2002-2004).
Earlier, at the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) in New Delhi, Ambassador Ponappa held several positions including Additional Secretary for Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and the Maldives (1998-2001), Joint Secretary in charge of the Consular, Passport, Visa and Overseas Indians Division (1992-1994) and for SAARC from 1986-1990. She was Senior Directing Staff at the National Defense College from 1995-1998. She was also Research Associate at the Centre for South and Southeast Asia, University of California, Berkeley. She also dealt with India’s relations with Pakistan and Afghanistan from 1975-1978 at the MEA.
She has dealt with India’s relations with its neighbours covering a wide range of issues including border negotiations; national security issues including terrorism and narcotics; sharing of river waters, disaster management and infrastructure projects; economic affairs including India-U.S. trade and investment, negotiation and implementation of the India-Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement; regional cooperation through SAARC, the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) and the UNESCAP.