NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi discussed the Russia-Ukraine conflict with his British counterpart Boris Johnson and conveyed strong advocacy for a peaceful resolution and direct dialogue between the two parties involved, Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla said on Friday, asserting that the UK applied "no pressure" over New Delhi's position on the matter.
Briefing reporters on talks between Modi and Johnson, Shringla said that Prime Minister Modi expressed deep concern over the ongoing situation in Ukraine and the mounting humanitarian crisis there.
The foreign secretary said that during the talks there was "no pressure" applied from the British side regarding the issue of adherence to sanctions on Russia and Johnson just shared his views on the Ukraine issue.
Asked if Boris Johnson put pressure on the Indian side to adhere to the sanctions against Russia, Shringla said, "The Ukraine issue was discussed by the two prime ministers but there was no pressure involved. Prime Minister Boris Johnson put forward his views on the Ukraine issue from his perspective."
Prime Minister Modi put forward India's perspective on the Ukraine issue and asserted that "we are on the side of peace", and want that there should be dialogue and diplomacy, and the conflict should be resolved soon, he said.
India's position was very clear and there was "no pressure of any kind", he asserted. "The two leaders also discussed the ongoing Ukraine-Russia conflict. Prime Minister (Modi) expressed deep concern over the ongoing situation and mounting humanitarian crisis. Prime Minister (Modi) reiterated his call for immediate cessation of violence and conveyed strong advocacy for peaceful resolution of the situation, and direct dialogue between the two parties," Shringla said.
The foreign secretary said Modi and Johnson also discussed the ongoing Free Trade Agreement (FTA) negotiations and cooperation on energy, green hydrogen, trade, and defence. The talks provided an opportunity to discuss regional and global issues of mutual interest, including cooperation in the Indo-Pacific, he said.
India welcomed the UK joining the Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative under the maritime security pillar and agreed to cooperate closely in this region towards their shared commitment for maintaining an open, free and secure Indo-Pacific region, Shringla said.
The foreign secretary said both sides felt defence and security was an area of potential cooperation. "As I told you, the UK's recent announcement about providing an open general licence for the export of equipment and technologies to India has been a welcome development. There was a discussion on what we could do... some of the areas that we discussed included electrical propulsion systems that can be used by naval ships, also some work on jet propulsion systems, aviation sector, underwater sea domain etc," he said.
But what is important was that both sides agreed that the two countries would facilitate meetings between their concerned scientists, he said. "In other words the focus is on co-development and co-production in keeping with our initiative of make in India and our policy of Atmanirbhar Bharat. The idea was that there would be greater emphasis on two salient features --which is production in India and transfer of technology. So, what we are looking at is a combination of UK's technology and our production base to make a win-win situation," Shringla said.
Shringla said reference was also made during the talks to easier mobility between the two countries, specifically for students and professionals. "...UK universities could also consider setting up their branches in India, at the same time he (PM Modi) also encouraged UK students to also study in India," he said.