Biden and PM Modi hold talks to woo India away from Russia

President Joe Biden and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had a "frank exchange of views" on the Ukraine crisis during a virtual summit on Monday.

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had a “frank exchange of views” on the Ukraine crisis during a virtual summit on Monday.

However, the United States appeared to have made little progress in moving India out of its neutral position in the face of the Russian invasion of Kyiv.

“It is important that all countries, especially those with influence, put pressure on Putin to end the war,” Foreign Minister Antony Blinken told reporters after the virtual summit, which was followed by a face-to-face meeting with his Indian counterpart and the defense ministers of both countries.

“And it’s also important that democracies pull together and speak with one voice to uphold the values ​​we share,” Blinken said after the talks, which a US official described as “warm and productive”.

Biden made no major demands on India, a key strategic ally in US plans to contain growing Chinese power in the Asia-Pacific region, and there were no signs of significant progress toward a unified position on the Ukrainian conflict.

But White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Biden had “made it clear that he does not believe it is in India’s interest to accelerate or increase imports of energy and other Russian raw materials”.

India sitting on fence

Modi has tried to walk a tightrope between maintaining ties with the West and preventing alienation from Russia, but has raised concerns in Washington by continuing to buy Russian oil.

In his talks with Biden, he simply said the situation was “very concerning” and reiterated his support for talks between Russia and Ukraine, which Washington views with skepticism.

India’s Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar expressed mild irritation when he told reporters who had asked about Biden’s push for India to cease energy imports from Russia that “our total purchases for the month would likely be less than what Europe would have in an afternoon.”

Biden has pressured world leaders to take a tough line against Moscow, although a US official said there was no “specific question and answer” on energy imports.

“India must make its own decisions on how to approach this challenge,” Blinken said, noting, however, that India “has made very strong statements…condemns the killing of civilians in Ukraine” and “provides significant humanitarian aid”.

Failing to attract such an important ally to its cause, Washington seems instead to multiply promises of friendship to prevent India from slipping little by little into the Russian camp and actively courting Moscow.

Biden began the meeting by hailing the “deep bond” between the two countries and saying he wanted to continue their “close consultations” on the war.

Biden and Modi failed to secure joint condemnation of the Russian invasion in their latest appearance at a meeting of the so-called ‘Quad’ alliance of the US, India, Australia and Japan in early March.

RosGwen24 News
RosGwen24 News
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