‘Tight’ Russia-China links will influence India’s thinking: US official

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The “tight links between” China and Russia are going to influence India’s attitude to global developments, a senior US official has said after the virtual summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Joe Biden.

“Prime Minister Modi took the opportunity to share his views in a pretty candid way about what’s going on,” the official said on Monday.

“We know that India has concerns about the links between Russia and China. India, of course, is facing a very tense situation along the Line of Actual Control. And when India sees the tight links between China and Russia, that’s obviously going to impact their thinking,” the official said.

On the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the official said that Biden and Modi had a “very candid conversation” on a range of issues related to it, the official said.

But, Biden did not make a concrete request to Modi about the Ukraine situation and the Indian leader gave no definite assurance, the official who briefed reporters on the condition of not being identified said.

“There was no sort of concrete ask and concrete answer, but the leaders were able to step back and have a pretty detailed and candid exchange of views,” the official said in response to repeated questions if Biden made a demand on India.

The official said that Biden “took the opportunity to continue the close consultations we’ve been having with India at a number of different levels across our government and over the course of many weeks on Russia’s brutal war against Ukraine”.

“The US and India are partnering and consulting on mitigating the most destabilizing impacts, both on global food supply and other commodity markets,” the official added.

One reporter suggested that the meeting was an “opportunity for the President to try to push India to be – you know, essentially to take a side here, as opposed to the sort of neutral position”.

The official said, “India is going to make its own judgments.”

In recent days India made some “pretty strong statements in New York condemning the killings of civilians, supporting calls for an independent investigation”, the official said.

“India is also providing humanitarian relief material to Ukraine, including medicine and other supplies,” the official added.

On India’s energy purchases, the official said, “We don’t think India should accelerate or increase imports of Russian energy. And the US is ready to support India, remain in a conversation with India about its diversification of imports.”

The official pointed out that India’s current imports from Russia are “about 1 to 2 per cent of its total energy imports and payments for energy are exempt from current sanctions”.

While the US has banned energy imports to it from Russia, “other countries have to make their own choices” the official said adding, “We know that not all countries will be able to do what we’ve done”.

The official said that Biden and Modi discussed the situation in South Asia touching on developments in Sri Lanka, in Bangladesh.

(Arul Louis can be reached at arul.l@ians.in and followed @arulouis)

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