PM assures Zelensky of help in achieving peace | Latest News India

    India will do everything possible to find a resolution to the Ukraine conflict, which is an issue of humanity, Prime Minister Narendra Modi assured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Saturday during their first face-to-face meeting since the start of the war with Russia last year.

    Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky in Hiroshima on Saturday. (AFP)

    Zelensky, who sought the meeting with the Indian leader on the margins of the G7 Summit in the Japanese city of Hiroshima, briefed Modi about Ukraine’s peace formula and invited India to join in its implementation. He thanked India for supporting the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine.

    Modi held several bilateral meetings with world leaders in Hiroshima, though it was the one with Zelensky that attracted the most attention. In April, Zelensky had sent his first deputy foreign minister Emine Dzhaparova to New Delhi with a message for Modi, seeking a greater Indian role in efforts to end the war and inviting the Indian premier to visit Kyiv.

    Flanked by external affairs minister S Jaishankar and national security adviser Ajit Doval, Modi sat opposite Zelensky, who was clad in his trademark military uniform. In his televised opening remarks, Modi noted that the Ukraine war has impacted the world.

    “The war in Ukraine is a very big issue for the whole world. It has had many different impacts on the whole world. But I don’t see this as a political or economic issue, for me this is an issue of humanity, an issue of human values,” Modi said, speaking in Hindi.

    “I wish to assure you that India and me, in my personal capacity, will do everything that is possible to find a solution to this situation,” Modi said, adding that he had spoken on phone with Zelensky over the past one-and-half years but that they were meeting in-person after the COP26 conference in Glasgow in late 2021.

    “You know more than any of us what is the suffering caused by war but when our students came back from Ukraine last year, I could understand the pain felt by you and Ukrainian citizens from the description of the circumstances they gave then,” he said.

    Modi conveyed India’s “clear support for dialogue and diplomacy to find a way forward”, according to a readout from the external affairs ministry. He appreciated Ukraine’s cooperation in the safe evacuation of Indian students and welcomed the decision by Ukrainian institutions to hold examinations in India for the students. Modi also said India will continue to provide humanitarian aid to the people of Ukraine.

    Zelensky said in a post on his Telegram channel that he had briefed Modi about Ukraine’s peace formula and invited India to join in its implementation. He spoke about Ukraine’s needs in terms of humanitarian demining operations and mobile hospitals.

    “I thank India for supporting the territorial integrity and sovereignty of our country, in particular at the sites of international organisations, and for providing humanitarian aid to Ukraine,” Zelensky said, in an apparent reference to the situation at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station.

    “The war brought many crises and sufferings. Children were deported, territories were mined, [and] cities and destinies were destroyed,” he said.

    Modi has spoken to both Zelensky and Russian President Vladimir Putin several times since the start of the conflict in February 2022, pushing India’s stance that the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all states must be respected and that there should be a return to diplomacy and dialogue to find a resolution.

    At a meeting with Putin on the margins of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Summit in Uzbekistan last September, Modi nudged the Russian leader to end the conflict by telling him this is “not the era of war” – a call that found mention in the joint communique issued after the G20 Summit in Bali.

    India has refrained from publicly censuring Russia’s actions despite considerable pressure from the US and European countries. It has also ramped up the purchase of discounted Russian crude, a move criticised by some Ukrainian leaders.

    Foreign secretary Vinay Kwatra told a news briefing in Hiroshima that the meeting was sought by Zelensky and lasted almost half an hour. Zelensky invited Modi to visit Ukraine, though the issues of Ukrainian participating in G20 meetings hosted by India and India’s purchase of Russian oil didn’t come up in the discussions, he said.

    Modi expressed concern at the conflict and the situation in Ukraine, as well as the severe impact on countries of the Global South, especially food, fuel and fertiliser insecurity, Kwatra said.

    India will continue to provide humanitarian assistance to Ukraine, including pharmaceutical products, and participate in efforts to find a resolution to the conflict through diplomacy and dialogue, Modi said.

    The meet with Zelensky was one of several bilateral meetings held by Modi on the margins of the G7 Summit, in which India is participating as one of eight guest countries. Modi also joined the leaders of Australia, Japan and the US for a Quad Leaders Summit that was hurriedly organised in Hiroshima after plans to hold it in Sydney fell through because of President Joe Biden calling off a visit to Australia.

    Modi and his Japanese counterpart, Fumio Kishida, held their second meeting of the year, following the Kishida’s visit to India in March. They discussed ways to synergise the G20 and G7 presidencies, and Modi stressed the need to highlight the concerns of the Global South.

    The two leaders exchanged views on regional developments and discussed ways to deepen cooperation in the Indo-Pacific. They also agreed on ways to strengthen the bilateral strategic partnership and their discussions focused on education, skill development, tourism, green hydrogen, high technology, semiconductors, digital public infrastructure, combating terrorism and reform of the UN.

    At their bilateral meeting, Modi and French President Emmanuel Macron reviewed progress in the bilateral strategic partnership in various areas, including trade and economic spheres, civil aviation, renewable energy, co-production in the defence sector and civil nuclear collaboration. “They agreed to expand the partnership to newer domains,” the external affairs ministry said in a readout.

    Modi thanked Macron for France’s support to India’s G20 presidency and they exchanged views on regional developments and global challenges. Modi also thanked Macron for inviting him as the guest of honour for France’s Bastille Day parade on July 14.

    At his meeting with South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol, Modi reviewed progress in the bilateral special strategic partnership and discussed ways to strengthen cooperation in trade, investment, high technology, IT hardware manufacturing, defence and semiconductors. Yoon conveyed his support to India’s G20 presidency while Modi welcomed South Korea’s Indo-Pacific strategy.

    Modi and his Vietnamese counterpart, Pham Minh Chinh, assessed the progress in the bilateral strategic partnership and agreed to enhance high-level exchanges and deepen bilateral trade and investment. They discussed opportunities in defence, building resilient supply chains, energy, science and technology, human resource development and people-to-people ties. They also discussed regional developments, including under Asean and cooperation in the Indo-Pacific.

    Modi also held talks with UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres. The PM unveiled a Bronze bust of Mahatma Gandhi, which was gifted by the Indian government to Hiroshima as a symbol of friendship and goodwill. The 42-inch bust sculpted by Padma Bhushan awardee Ram Vanji Sutar has been installed at a site adjacent to Motoyasu river that is close to the iconic Atomic Bomb Dome visited by thousands of people every day.

    The prime minister also met leading Japanese personalities Tomio Mizokami and Hiroko Takayama. Mizokami, the professor emeritus at the Graduate School of Foreign Studies of Osaka University, is a renowned author and linguist who is proficient in Hindi and Punjabi. He was conferred the Padma Shri in 2018 for his contributions to Indian literature and culture in Japan. Takayama is a Western style painter whose works are deeply influenced by India.

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