Ukraine: United States and India forgive each other without reconciling their positions – 04/12/2022 at 00:59

US President Joe Biden during a virtual exchange with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on April 11, 2022 at the White House (AFP/MANDEL NGAN)

Joe Biden and Narendra Modi had a “frank” virtual exchange on Monday, but in which they did not seem to have reconciled positions on the war in Ukraine, an issue that is destabilizing the relationship between India and the United States.

“It is important that all countries, especially those that have influence” over Russian President Vladimir Putin, “urge him to end the war,” said the head of US diplomacy, Antony Blinken, before the press after this summit. by videoconference. followed by a meeting in Washington with his Indian counterpart and the defense ministers of the two countries.

“And it is also important that democracies (…) speak with one voice to defend the values ​​we share,” he added.

The Biden administration, which has made India a pillar of US Asia-Pacific alliances against China, has been embarrassed by New Delhi’s positioning since the start of the war in Ukraine.

Narendra Modi’s government has refrained from openly condemning the Russian invasion and from joining the vote to that effect at the UN.

During his exchange with Joe Biden, the Indian prime minister limited himself to describing the situation in Ukraine as “very worrying”, recalling his support for the Russian-Ukrainian negotiations that Washington is observing with skepticism.

Pressed by questions about this lack of conviction, the head of Indian diplomacy S. Jaishankar did not hide a hint of annoyance. “Thanks for his advice and suggestions, but I prefer to do it my way,” he told a reporter during his press conference with Antony Blinken.

And while, according to the White House, the US president warned that it would not be “in India’s interest to accelerate” its imports of Russian energy, which would partly offset the reduction in Western purchases, the Indian minister was equally scathing. . “Our purchases in a month are probably lower than in Europe in an afternoon,” he replied.

The almost hour-long conversation between Joe Biden and Narendra Modi was thus “warm” but above all “frank”, according to a senior White House official, who repeatedly used this adjective, translating, into diplomatic language, a certain tension.

– “Crucial” partnership –

Failing to win over this key ally to its cause, Washington therefore appears to be multiplying promises of friendship to prevent it from gradually slipping into the Russian camp, which is also courting it.

At the beginning of the virtual meeting, Joe Biden praised the “deep connection” between the two countries and, in front of a large screen in which Narendra Modi appeared, expressed his desire to “continue” the “close consultations” on Ukraine.

“This is an important moment in world affairs and therefore I believe that this partnership is even more crucial and vital,” Antony Blinken also insisted.

The United States, aware of India’s dependence on Russia for military equipment in the context of close ties inherited from the Cold War, knows that it cannot publicly rush into it.

Thus, after stating at the start of the war that any country should take a clear stand, the US government pretended to understand India’s caution, even as it raised its voice more clearly against China.

“India must make its own decisions in the face of this challenge,” said Antony Blinken, without criticizing her head-on. On the contrary, he acknowledged that she had “condemned the killing of civilians” in Ukraine while “providing significant humanitarian aid.”

He also repeatedly pointed out that while Indo-Russian relations were much older than those between Washington and New Delhi, the latter were now developing at great speed.

Disagreeing over the war itself, American and Indian leaders have emphasized their common desire to mitigate its effects on the world economy and other common ground, notably by signing a space cooperation agreement.

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