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‘Worrying’ Ukraine situation is focus of Biden-Modi virtual summit, US hails India’s aid to Kyiv

PM Modi says he has spoken to both Russian President Vladimir Putin & Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, appealing not only for peace but also for ‘direct talks’ between the two.

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New Delhi: US President Joe Biden Monday welcomed India’s efforts to send humanitarian aid to Ukraine, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he had spoken to both Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to defuse tensions amid the ongoing war.

The two leaders were interacting at a virtual summit meeting ahead of the 2+2 ministerial dialogue that will take place between External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and their American counterparts, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin, respectively.

Singh and Jaishankar are in the US to hold the first India-US 2+2 talks under the Biden administration.

Referring to the US and India as “two vibrant democracies”, Biden said, “We share a strong and growing major defence partnership. At the root of our partnership is our deep connection between our people ties of family and friendship, and of shared values.”

The US President, who was flanked by Jaishankar, Blinken, Singh, Austin, US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, and India’s Ambassador to the US Taranjit Singh Sandhu, also said, “I want to welcome India’s humanitarian support for the people of Ukraine, who are suffering a horrific assault, including a tragic shelling on a train station that killed dozens.”

Biden expressed that he was looking forward to meeting Modi in person during the upcoming Quad Summit in Japan on 24 May.

“US and India will continue close consultation on how to manage the destabilising effects of the Russian war,” he added.

Modi, on his part, described India and the US as “natural partners” as “two democracies that are the world’s largest and oldest”.

“Our talks today are taking place at a time when the situation in Ukraine is very worrying,” the PM said.

He added that he had spoken to the presidents of both Russia and Ukraine “several times” in an effort to bring them together to end the war.

“I not only appealed for peace, but also suggested that there be direct talks between President Putin and the President of Ukraine. We had extensive discussions on Ukraine in our Parliament as well,” said PM Modi.

Referring to the Bucha killings as “very worrying”, the PM said India had condemned the incident and urged an independent investigation.

“We hope that the ongoing discussions between Russia and Ukraine will lead to peace. We also emphasised the importance of civilians and their unhindered access to the humanitarian aid,” Modi said, adding that India will soon be sending another shipment of medicines to Ukraine.

According to a statement issued by the Union Ministry of External Affairs, the two leaders had “an extensive exchange of views on several regional and global issues, such as the Covid-19 pandemic, global economic recovery, climate action, recent developments in South Asia and the Indo-Pacific region, and the situation in Ukraine”. 

“They also took stock of the significant progress made in bilateral relations in recent years,” it added.

“Both leaders agreed that further strengthening of the India-US Comprehensive Global Strategic Partnership would be of tremendous benefit to the two countries, and would also contribute to global peace, prosperity and stability,” the statement further said.

Also Read: Biden’s adviser on Russia sanctions had ‘productive’ conversation during India visit, US says

Jaishankar, Singh meet their counterparts separately

Prior to the virtual meeting between Modi and Biden, Jaishankar met Blinken and Singh met Austin separately to discuss bilateral issues.

Rajnath Singh had Sunday also met the executives of US defence and aerospace giants Boeing and Raytheon.

(Edited by Gitanjali Das)

Also Read: Quad differences out in the open, Biden & Kishida call for support but India stays silent


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