US is there for India: Biden administration

New Delhi: The Ukraine crisis, developments in South Asia, the situation in the Indo-Pacific and bilateral cooperation are expected to figure at a virtual meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Joe Biden on Monday.

The Modi-Biden meeting will precede the fourth India-US ‘2+2’ dialogue in Washington on the same day which will be led by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on the Indian side while the US delegation will be headed by Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin and Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Announcing the Modi-Biden meeting, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said it will “enable both sides to continue their regular and high-level engagement aimed at further strengthening the bilateral comprehensive global strategic partnership”.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki in a statement said, “President Biden will continue our close consultations on the consequences of Russia’s brutal war against Ukraine and mitigating its destabilising impact on global food supply and commodity markets.”

She also said that the two leaders will advance ongoing conversations about the development of an ‘Indo-Pacific Economic Framework’ and delivering high-quality infrastructure.

In its statement, the MEA said Modi and Biden will exchange views on recent developments in South Asia, the Indo-Pacific region and global issues of mutual interest.

“The two leaders will review ongoing bilateral cooperation and exchange views on recent developments in South Asia, the Indo-Pacific region and global issues of mutual interest,” it said.

The virtual meeting comes 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.

Late last month, US Deputy National Security Adviser for International Economics Daleep Singh also during a visit to New Delhi said that Washington would not like to see a “rapid” acceleration in India’s import of energy and other commodities from Russia.

The US President last spoke to Modi and other Quad leaders during a virtual meeting in March.

Psaki said Biden and Modi will discuss cooperation on a range of issues including ending the COVID-19 pandemic, countering the climate crisis, strengthening the global economy, and upholding a free, open, rules-based international order to bolster security, democracy, and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific.

“The Leaders will advance ongoing conversations about the development of an Indo-Pacific Economic Framework and delivering high-quality infrastructure,” she said.

The Ukraine issue is also likely to come up at the ‘2+2’ dialogue.

“The leaders’ virtual interaction will precede the fourth India-US 2+2 ministerial dialogue which will be led by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and Minister of External Affairs S Jaishankar on the Indian side and their US counterparts, Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin and Secretary of State Antony Blinken,” the MEA said.

MEA Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi on Thursday said India has established economic ties with Russia and its focus is on stabilising these relations in the current circumstances while asserting that “political colouring” should not be attributed to the engagement.

“We have established economic relations with Russia. Our focus is on stabilising these established economic relations in the current circumstances. We have been very open about it,” he said.

Unlike its Quad partner countries, India has not yet condemned the Russian invasion of Ukraine and it abstained from the votes at the UN platforms on the Russian aggression.

India has been pressing for an immediate cessation of violence in Ukraine and seeking a resolution of the crisis through diplomacy and dialogue.

Modi has held phone conversations with Russian President Vladimir Putin on February 24, March 2 and March 7.

Modi had spoken to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy twice.

In a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on April 1, Modi conveyed to him that India stands ready to contribute in any way to the peace efforts to resolve the conflict in Ukraine.

Also read: Imran Khan: Cricketing career overshadowed his political journey


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