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Washington, April 11
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 Indiahellip; 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.