NEW DELHI: Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida arrived in India on Saturday, with officials in Tokyo predicting "candid discussions" about New Delhi's unwillingness to condemn Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
Unlike fellow members of the Quad alliance -- Japan, Australia and the United States -- India has abstained in three UN votes deploring Moscow's actions, calling only for a halt to the violence.
Earlier this month in a four-way call of Quad leaders, Kishida, US President Joe Biden and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison failed to convince India's Narendra Modi to take a tougher line.
A joint statement had said they "discussed the ongoing conflict and humanitarian crisis in Ukraine and assessed its broader implications" -- without any condemnation of Moscow.
A separate Indian readout pointedly "underlined that the Quad must remain focused on its core objective of promoting peace, stability and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region."
Ahead of Kishida's visit, the first by a Japanese premier since 2017, a foreign ministry official said Tokyo was "aware" of Delhi's "geographical location and historical ties to Russia".
"But at the same time we share fundamental values and strategic interests so naturally there will be candid discussions about how we view the Ukraine situation, and also expect to hear a similar explanation from Prime Minister Modi," the official told reporters.
He added that Modi, 71, and Kishida, 64, would also discuss "issues closer to our region" such as a "free and open Indo-Pacific" -- a reference to China -- and bilateral issues.
"That will be more the opportunity to take stock of the bilateral cooperation as well as reaffirming our shared strategic vision and interests rather than emphasising on what our differences are," the official said.
India's foreign ministry said only that the talks aimed to "review and strengthen the bilateral cooperation in diverse areas as well as exchange views on regional and global issues of mutual interest so as to advance their partnership for peace, stability and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region and beyond."