India pressing for cessation of hostilities in Ukraine: Jaishankar in '2+2' summit in US

The minister said that one of the big concerns that India and the world has is of energy security, of rising prices, of increasing premiums, of limited supplies.

Published: 12th April 2022 08:09 AM  |   Last Updated: 12th April 2022 08:09 AM   |  A+A-

India's External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar speaks at a news conference during the fourth U.S.-India 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue at the State Department in Washington. (Photo | AP)

By PTI

WASHINGTON: The discussions during the India US 2+2 ministerial here has helped the two countries to strategize on mitigating the volatility and unpredictability that the world is currently experiencing, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said on Monday.

"It has helped us today to strategize on mitigating the volatility and unpredictability that the world is currently experiencing. That will be naturally reflected in our policies," Jaishankar told reporters addressing a joint news conference with Defense Minister Rajnath Singh and their American counterparts Secretary of State Tony Blinken and the Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.

The fourth 2+2, the first under the Biden administration, was held here on Monday.

The discussions have also encouraged the two countries to think together on long-term challenges, especially in the Indo-Pacific.

"It has energized our collaborative endeavours to build what is emerging as a key bilateral relationship of our times," he said.

Responding to a question, Jaishankar said india is pressing for a cessation of hostilities in Ukraine.

"I think part of what we are doing is to press for a cessation of hostilities, which I think everybody would agree would mitigate matters and India, he said, is working towards mitigating global volatility and unpredictability."

"While we're also addressing the humanitarian situation, in fact, we have -- the Ukrainians have been in touch with us for -- especially for the supply of medicines. We have already provided humanitarian relief to Ukraine to some of the neighbours. And even as we speak, a shipment of medicines is being delivered or will be delivered very soon to Kiev," he said.

"We have discussed the economic consequences as well and we are looking at it ourselves, but we have discussed it as partners," he said.

The minister said that one of the big concerns that India and the world has is of energy security, of rising prices, of increasing premiums, of limited supplies.

"So today you have to understand it is a legitimate concern of countries to ensure their energy security. But an equally big worry, which is emerging, is of food security. There are concerns across geographies of societies who are importing wheat or sugar or other foodstuff out of the conflict region".

The issue also came up for discussion during the virtual summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Joe Biden, about what could India do to stabilize the global economic situation.

"We are quite willing and, in fact, we have already started responding to the need for greater food supplies, especially wheat, most of all; but to some degree, sugar as well. We have even at this moment a number of countries are discussing with us the possibility of greater food supplies, including the World Food Programme," he said.

Jaishankar said COVID-19 has also left them with a lot of uncertainties and a lot of challenges to be addressed.

"I think part of it is how do you construct more reliable and resilient supply chains? How do you increase trust and transparency? How do we work together on critical and emerging technologies like 5G? And again, we discussed an Indian initiative called Performance Linked Initiative, which would incentivize manufacturing in India".

It is very much in American interest to support it, the minister said.

"We also spoke about how we could work together to help with the global health situation. How do we get a shot in every arm? How do we increase the distribution of vaccines? And the other issue, again, which has added to global uncertainty is Afghanistan. And how do you stabilize the region, how do you again provide humanitarian assistance?" he told the reporters.

India, he said, is in the middle of providing 50,000 tons of wheat.

"How do you deal with the terrorism concerns that the world has in the Security Council, in FATF, et cetera. And I would say in a way, in terms of mitigating and stabilizing, the Quad itself is a great stabilizer. So that too is part of the contribution we are making towards a better world, and making that contribution in large measure through a partnership with the United States," said the minister.

Jaishankar on Monday also said the informal grouping of Australia, India, Japan and the United States has emerged as a powerful force of global good.

Jaishankar told reporters that challenges in the Indo-Pacific were a particular focus of the discussions during the India US 2+2 ministerial that were held at the Foggy Bottom headquarters of the State Department.

"We appreciate the attention and energy devoted by the United States to the Quad. Its elevation and intensification in the last year benefits the entire Indo-Pacific," he said.

"Indeed, the Quad has emerged as a powerful force of global good," Jaishankar said.

Earlier in the day, US President Joe Biden indicated that the next Quad summit would be held in Japan on May 24.

The White House Press Secretary, however, refrained from disclosing a precise date.

"The President is looking forward to going to Asia at some point, but I don't have any more details at this point in time. Clearly, he's excited since he talked about it today," Psaki said in response to a question during her daily news conference.

US President Joe Biden on Monday told Prime Minister Narendra Modi that it was not in India's interest to "accelerate or increase" its oil purchase from Russia and was willing to help New Delhi further diversify its energy imports, the White House said.

Biden made the remarks during a virtual meeting with Prime Minister Modi, which was "constructive" and "productive" and their interaction was "not adversarial," White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters.

The virtual meeting between the two leaders came in the midst of some disquiet in Washington over India's position on the Ukraine crisis as well as its decision to procure discounted Russian oil.

The Modi-Biden virtual meeting lasted for about an hour.

"This was a constructive call. It was a productive call. It is a relationship that is vitally important to the United States and to the President. I would not see it as an adversarial call," Psaki told reporters at her daily news conference soon after the conclusion of the Modi-Biden virtual bilateral.

While the two leaders have met virtually multiple times and also in personal settings, this was for the first time that Biden and Modi had a virtual bilateral.

During the meeting, Biden said that it is not in India's interest to accelerate or increase its oil imports from Russia.

As of now, India imports between one and two per cent of its oil needs from Russia as compared to 10 per cent from the US.

The United States, Psaki said, is willing to help India further diversify its energy resources.

India buying oil and gas from Russia, she insisted, is not in violation of any sanctions.

"But I will let them speak for themselves," she said.

Responding to a question, Psaki said that no decision has been taken on CAATSA sanctions on India, which is going ahead with its decision to purchase the S-400 missile system from Russia.

In October 2018, India signed a USD 5 billion deal with Russia to buy five units of the S-400 Triumf air defence missile systems to ramp up its air defence, despite a warning from the then Trump administration that going ahead with the contract may invite US sanctions.

The US has already imposed sanctions on Turkey under the CAATSA for the purchase of a batch of S-400 missile defence systems from Russia.

Psaki told reporters that Modi and India have spoken forcefully against Russian atrocities in Ukraine.

The US has not asked India to do anything in particular on the issue of oil import from Russia during a virtual summit between President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the White House said on Monday, underling that New Delhi will make its own decisions with regard to various issues related to Russia and Ukraine.

The virtual meeting between the two leaders came in the midst of some disquiet in Washington over India's position on the Ukraine crisis as well as its decision to procure discounted Russian oil.

"The two leaders covered the whole range of issues related to Russia and Ukraine. It was a very candid conversation. I think you will have seen even Prime Minister Modi's remarks at the top he talks about it as well. There were very direct conversations," a senior administration official told reporters after the virtual meeting.

"On the energy issues, of course, it was a subject of discussion. We're aware of what India, we haven't asked India to do anything in particular. We are having a very open conversation. We know that not all countries will be able to do what we've done," the official said.

"We know that India is not a major consumer of Russian oil. Its current imports are about one to 2% of its total energy import. As of now, our energy payments are exempt from current sanctions. We have been very clear that we've been able to ban oil and LNG imports from Russia. But other countries have to make their own choices. That said, we don't think India should accelerate or increase imports of Russian energy and the US is ready to have conversations with India about diversification," said the official.

The Modi-Biden virtual meeting lasted for about an hour.

During the course of the meeting, the official said the two leaders had "a very candid conversation" and they discussed a range of bilateral and global issues.

"The meeting was warm and productive. They covered a lot of ground. The leaders were able to talk about joint global efforts in the COVID-19 pandemic. They talked about the climate. They talked about strengthening the global economy and they talked about upholding a free and open Indo-Pacific, including developing the Indo-Pacific economic framework and infrastructure," the official said.

Biden also took the opportunity to continue the close consultations that the US is having with India at a number of different levels of government and also Russia's brutal war against Ukraine and how the two countries are partnering and mitigating the destabilising impacts on global food supply and other commodities markets.

Responding to a question, the official said that both Prime Minister Modi and President Biden shared their views on Ukraine.

"You will have seen in recent days that India made some pretty strong statements in New York, condemning the killing of civilians, and supporting calls for an independent investigation. India is also providing humanitarian relief materials to Ukraine, including medicine and other supplies. There were close consultations in early days about the Indian students that were needed to be evacuated from Ukraine," the official said.

The two countries are going to continue these discussions with India.

"India will make its own decisions, but we're going to continue the discussions. There were conversations about how to mitigate the destabilising impacts of Putin's war including on food supply, where India is in a position to have done some things and there was discussion about what more India might be able to do," said the official.

According to a senior administration official, Modi took the opportunity to share his views in a pretty candid way about what's going on.

"We know that India has concerns about the link between Russia and China. India, of course is facing a very tough situation along the Line of Actual Control," said the official, adding that when India sees the ties between China and Russia, that's obviously going to impact their thinking.

"There was no sort of concrete answer but the leaders were able to step back and have a pretty detailed and candid exchange of views," said the official.



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