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Discrepancies in MEA, Kremlin statements on Modi-Putin call, ‘will take Modi at his word’ says US

Modi's call for 'dialogue and diplomacy' amid the ongoing Ukraine war and mention of 'defence and security' cooperation missing from Kremlin version of Friday call between Indian PM and Putin.

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New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call for “dialogue and diplomacy” amid the ongoing Ukraine war, as well as the mention of “defence and security” cooperation were two aspects missing from the Kremlin’s version about what was discussed in a call between the Indian Prime Minister and Russian President Vladimir Putin Friday.

Following the telephonic conversation, the US Department of State said countries will make their own decisions on how to engage with Russia.

According to the statement released by the Indian Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), PM Modi “reiterated his call for dialogue and diplomacy as the only way forward” during his latest call with the Russian President.

A statement released by the Kremlin only said, however, that “At Narendra Modi’s request, Vladimir Putin gave a principled assessment regarding Russia’s policy in Ukraine”.

On discussions about bilateral cooperation, Modi and Putin spoke about “energy cooperation, trade and investments, defence and security cooperation, and other key areas” in their call, said the MEA.

The Kremlin statement did not mention defense, but rather that the two leaders discussed cooperation in areas of “mutual investment, energy, agriculture, transport and logistics”.

Russia’s invasion into Ukraine, which is nearing the 10-month mark, has led to an increase in global prices in fuel, food and fertiliser. India has not condemned the Russian invasion of Ukraine, but has reiterated the need to resolve the crisis through diplomacy and dialogue.

In September, on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization Summit, PM Modi had said “now is not the time for war” — a statement welcomed by the US and other Western countries.

Also read: Did Modi & Biden ‘review ties’ at Bali, or was it just a ‘brief meeting’? MEA, White House differ

‘Welcomed those comments when they took place’

Shortly after Modi and Putin’s telephonic conversation Friday, the US State Department said countries will make their own decisions on how to engage with Russia.

Asked about how seriously Washington considered remarks from PM Modi to end the conflict, US Department of State Principal Deputy Spokesperson Vedant Patel said: “Well, we would take the prime minister at his word, and we welcomed those comments when they took place.”

He added: “Ultimately, though, other countries will make their own decisions on its engagements with both — when it comes to Russia”.

Patel said Washington continues to coordinate with allies and partners to mitigate the impact of the Ukraine war, especially with effects on energy markets.

Asked if India has a role to play to stop the war, Patel said any country interested in engaging in peace and ending the war “would need to do so in close coordination and partnership with our Ukrainian partners” (sic).

“This — we will continue doing everything we can to support them and that this needs to come to a conclusion on their terms,” added Patel.

In October, PM Modi had spoken to Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and reiterated his call for “dialogue and diplomacy” to solve the conflict with Russia, as well as voiced his concerns about the safety of nuclear installations in Ukraine.

(Edited by Poulomi Banerjee)

Also read: ‘India has a substantial, time-tested relationship with Russia,’ says Jaishankar in Moscow


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