US Deputy NSA didn't issue any warning to India: Biden administration ahead of 2+2 summit

There has been some disquiet in Washington over India's position on the Ukraine crisis as well as its decision to procure discounted Russian oil.
US deputy national security advisor for international economics Daleep Singh (Photo| Twitter)
US deputy national security advisor for international economics Daleep Singh (Photo| Twitter)

WASHINGTON: US President Joe Biden expects that the Indo-US two-plus-two Ministerial here on Monday will drive forward his administration's work with India and their "shared goals" in the Indo-Pacific region and have "close consultations" on the war in Ukraine, the White House has said.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin are all set to host their Indian counterparts External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh for the 2+2 Ministerial on April 11.

This is the first such meeting between the two countries under the Biden Administration.

The two Indian leaders are expected to arrive in Washington DC over the weekend.

"We also believe both sides will continue our close consultations on the consequences of President (Vladimir) Putin's brutal war against Ukraine and mitigating the impact by addressing energy and food prices. Obviously, it could cover a range of topics, but we expect that to be a central one," White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters at her daily news conference on Friday.

There has been some disquiet in Washington over India's position on the Ukraine crisis as well as its decision to procure discounted Russian oil.

Asserting that India is strongly against the Russia-Ukraine conflict as no solution can be arrived at by shedding blood, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Wednesday said that if New Delhi has chosen a side, it is the side of peace and an immediate end to violence.

India on Thursday abstained from the United Nations General Assembly voting on Russia's suspension from the UN Human Rights Council.

The 193-member UN General Assembly voted to suspend Russia, a veto-wielding Security Council member, from the Geneva-based top human rights body over allegations that Russian soldiers killed civilians while retreating from towns near the Ukrainian capital Kyiv.

The United States and Ukraine have alleged that the Russian forces may have committed war crimes in the Eastern European country.

"President Biden believes our partnership with India is one of the most important relationships we have in the world. As you know, he met with Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi and other Quad leaders in March," the White House Press Secretary said.

"He (Biden) expects that at this 2+2, Secretary Blinken and Secretary Austin, will continue driving forward our work with India and our shared goals in the Indo-Pacific region and around the world," Psaki said.

India, the US and several other world powers have been talking about the need to ensure a free, open and thriving Indo-Pacific in the backdrop of China's rising military manoeuvring in the region.

China claims nearly all of the disputed South China Sea, though Taiwan, the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam all claim parts of it.

Beijing has built artificial islands and military installations in the South China Sea.

India on Thursday said the '2+2' dialogue with the US will provide an opportunity to exchange views on important regional and global developments and how both sides can work together to address common interests and concerns.

"The dialogue would enable both sides to undertake a comprehensive review of cross-cutting issues in the India-US bilateral agenda related to foreign policy, defence and security with the objective of providing strategic guidance and vision for further consolidating the relationship," Arindam Bagchi, the Spokesperson in the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said in New Delhi.

The Pentagon on Thursday said this year's 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue will span the full breadth of the partnership - including defence, science and technology cooperation, climate, public health, and people-to-people ties, it said.

Since its inception in 2018, the 2+2 Ministerial has allowed the US and India to work toward building an advanced, comprehensive defence partnership that is poised to meet the challenges of the 21st century, it said.

Meanwhile, Congressman Mark Green met India's Ambassador to the US, Taranjit Singh Sandhu.

"Met with India's Ambassador to the United States Taranjit Singh Sandhu this week. Our countries' strong partnership is critical. Grateful for the opportunity to reaffirm the US-India relationship," he said in a tweet.

Biden Administration's key architect for Russian sanctions Indian American Daleep Singh had not issued any warning to India on oil imports from Russia during his recent trip to New Delhi and had a rather constructive dialogue, the White House said Friday.

The White House made the assertion while also noting that India imports more energy from the United States than Russia.

"I wouldn't characterise it as a warning," White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters at her daily news briefing in reply to a question on Singh's recent India visit.

Singh, Deputy National Security Advisor to President Joe Biden, is considered to be the architect of economic sanctions against Russia in its war against Ukraine.

"When Daleep was in India, he delivered this warning to India to not raise purchases of Russian oil. And we were wondering if perhaps sanctions along similar lines are being considered for other nations, asking them to keep purchases of Russian oil only limited to previous levels and perhaps not," she was asked.

"He (Singh) went and had a constructive conversation and made clear that while it's the decision of each individual country, including India, to determine whether they're going to import Russian oil, it is only 1 to 2 per cent of their imports, About 10 per cent of their imports is from the United States," Psaki said.

"He conveyed, of course, they should abide by sanctions which are not related to that decision. But also we would be here to help them diversify and move towards even reducing further beyond the one to two per cent," Psaki said in response.

During his visit to India, Daleep Singh, in his interaction with reporters, had reportedly cautioned India against expecting Russia to come to the country's defence if China were to violate the Line of Actual Control as the two countries are now in a "no limits partnership".

"I come here in a spirit of friendship to explain the mechanisms of our sanctions, the importance of joining us to express shared resolve and advance shared interests.

And yes, there are consequences to countries that actively attempt to circumvent or backfill these sanctions,” Singh had said.

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The New Indian Express