'Be it Ukraine or West Asia, now is not time for war': PM Modi in bilateral talks with Austria

This is the first visit by an Indian prime minister to Austria in more than 40 years, the last being of Indira Gandhi in 1983.
PTI
Prime Minister Narendra Modi being greeted by Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer during the signing of guest book, in Vienna, Austria

VIENNA: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday said he held a "fruitful discussion" with Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer during which they discussed in detail the ongoing disputes in the world, including the Ukraine conflict and situation in West Asia, reaffirming that "this is not the time for war".

Modi, who arrived here from Moscow after meeting Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday night on a two-day visit - the first by an Indian prime minister in over 40 years, also said India and Austria identified new possibilities to further strengthen mutual cooperation and prepared a blueprint for cooperation for the coming decade.

"Today, Chancellor Nehammer and I had a very fruitful discussion. We have identified new possibilities to further strengthen our mutual cooperation. We have decided to give a strategic direction to our relationship. A blueprint for cooperation has been prepared for the coming decade," Modi said in a joint media appearance with Chancellor Nehammer after their talks.

"Chancellor Nehammer and I have spoken at length about ongoing conflicts around the world, be it the conflict in Ukraine or the situation in West Asia. I have said before that this is not the time for war," the prime minister said.

Asserting that solutions to problems can't be found on the battlefield, Modi said India and Austria emphasise dialogue and diplomacy, and for that, they are ready to give any support required.

Modi said both India and Austria strongly condemn terrorism and agree that it is not acceptable in any form.

"This cannot be justified in any way," he said.

Modi said he was happy that he got the opportunity to visit Austria at the very beginning of his third term.

"This visit of mine is both historic and special; after 41 years, no Indian PM has visited Austria."

He said shared belief in values such as democracy and the rule of law is the strong foundation of India-Austria relations.

"Mutual trust and shared interests strengthen our relations," he added.

"We agree to reform the United Nations and other international institutions to make them contemporary and effective," Modi added.

"India-Ausria scripting a new chapter in bilateral relations. PM @narendramodi warmly received by Austrian Chancellor @karlnehammer at the Federal Chancellery and accorded a ceremonial welcome," MEA Spokesperson Randhir Jaiswal said in a post on X, along with photographs of the welcome ceremony.

On Tuesday, Modi met Nehammer for a private engagement "An important milestone in India-Austria partnership! PM @narendramodi hosted by Austrian Chancellor @karlnehammer for a private engagement.

This is the first meeting between the two leaders.

Discussions on realising the full potential of bilateral partnership lie ahead," Jaiswal posted on X on Tuesday, along with photographs of the two leaders together in Vienna.

Modi was seen hugging Nehammer in one of the photos, while in another, the Austrian chancellor was seen clicking a selfie with the prime minister.

Nehammer posted a photo of him and Modi on the microblogging platform and said: "Welcome to Vienna, PM @narendramodi! It is a pleasure and honour to welcome you to Austria. Austria and India are friends and partners. I look forward to our political and economic discussions during your visit!" The prime minister thanked the Austrian chancellor "for the warm welcome" and said he looks forward to "our discussions tomorrow as well. Our nations will continue working together to further global good".

In another post on X, Modi said: "Happy to meet you in Vienna, Chancellor @karlnehammer. The India-Austria friendship is strong and it will get even stronger in the times to come."

Austrian artists welcomed Modi with a rendition of Vande Mataram.

The choir and orchestra were led by Vijay Upadhyaya.

Upadhyaya, 57, was born in Lucknow.

In 1994 he became director of the Vienna University Philharmony.

He is the Austrian representative on the jury of experts for the evaluation of European Union culture projects and is the founder and artistic director of the India National Youth Orchestra.

"Austria is known for its vibrant musical culture. I got a glimpse of it thanks to this amazing rendition of Vande Mataram!" Modi posted on X with the video.

Modi will also call on the President of the Republic of Austria, Alexander Van der Bellen.

The prime minister and the chancellor will also address business leaders from India and Austria.

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