- PM Modi is visiting Germany, Denmark and France
- His visit comes amid Russia-Ukraine war and a changing global order
- Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, other senior ministers are accompanying PM Modi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to "exchange perspective" on the situation in Ukraine during his three-nation European tour from Monday, Foreign Secretary Vinay Mohan Kwatra said, insisting the key focus of the visit will be to boost ties on a range of areas including trade, energy and green technology. At a media briefing on Sunday, Kwatra reiterated India's "clear" position on Ukraine and called for the cessation of hostilities and resolution of the conflict through dialogue and diplomacy.
The newly appointed foreign secretary underlined the "context, clarity, importance and positive dimension" of India's position on Ukraine and asserted that there should not be any doubt about it. Kwatra said India's international partners are aware of its position on Ukraine and they have shown a deep appreciation of it.
In his departure statement, Modi said, "My visit to Europe comes at a time when the region faces many challenges and choices. Through my engagements, I intend to strengthen the spirit of cooperation with our European partners, who are important companions in India's quest for peace and prosperity."
PM Modi to visit Germnay, Denmark and France
On Monday, Modi and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz will co-chair the India-Germany inter-governmental consultations (IGC) in Berlin.
From Germany, the prime minister will travel to Copenhagen in Denmark on May 3 at the invitation of Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen. There he will attend the second India-Nordic Summit.
On May 4, he will hold talks with French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris.
"When the prime minister interacts with these leaders, naturally, the issues of regional and global importance would also figure in the discussions," Kwatra said when asked whether the Ukraine issue will figure in Modi's talks with European leaders.
"But I must reiterate that the principal focus of the visits and discussions is to structure and strengthen bilateral partnership across a range of areas and of course exchange perspective on the Ukraine issues also," he said.
The foreign secretary said it would not be correct for him to comment "on each of the countries of Europe, how they look at Ukraine issue."
Kwatra said India's position on Ukraine has been "amplified, made clear and enunciated in great detail in multiple fora".
India calls for cessation of hostilities in Ukraine
Explaining India's position, he said, "One, we've always maintained that there should be a cessation of hostilities in Ukraine, and two, the path to resolution goes through diplomacy and dialogue. I think these strands pretty much capture what we have to say on Ukraine."
Kwatra said the visit is focused on expanding India's bilateral ties with the three European nations in a range of areas, including trade and investment, clean energy, digital technology and defence.
He added the Ukraine issue will figure in the talks as part of discussions on regional and global developments.
Kwatra said talks on energy security will be one of the key areas of discussion during Modi's visit as it has assumed greater significance in the current circumstances.
There has been a wider debate and discussion in Europe over ending its dependence on Russian energy given its attack on Ukraine.
The foreign secretary talked about the "changing elements" of energy security, its impact on developing countries like India, the challenges in the sector and their mitigation.
"I am sure this would constitute one of the elements in the overall discussions. But naturally, one single item would not define what the structure of the discussions would be," he said.
Kwatra said Modi and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz will co-chair the 6th India-Germany Inter-Governmental Consultations (IGC) on Monday.
It will be followed by a high-level roundtable where Modi and Scholz will interact with top CEOs of both countries.
Modi is also scheduled to interact with the Indian diaspora in Germany.
"The meeting between the two leaders would provide an excellent platform not only to strengthen the existing multi-faceted bilateral partnership but to also shape and develop an ambitious agenda of cooperation for months and years ahead, including in the field of the development partnership, green agenda, trade and investment linkages," Kwatra said.
Scholz is scheduled to host Modi at a private dinner.
Finance Minister, senior Union Ministers to accompany PM Modi
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and a number of other senior Union ministers are expected to accompany Modi to Germany as the format of the IGC mandates direct talks between senior ministers of the two sides on cooperation in specific areas.
Modi to hold separate bilateral talks with Norway, Sweden, Iceland and Finland
In Denmark, Modi is scheduled to hold separate bilateral talks with leaders of Norway, Sweden, Iceland and Finland.
"The prime minister's first visit in 2022 factors in an ambitious and substantial agenda packed into an intense schedule... The principal purpose of the visit is for India to continue to strengthen its multi-dimensional multi-faceted partnerships with key countries of Europe," the foreign secretary said.
On May 4, Modi will have a brief stopover in Paris on his return journey where he will hold extensive talks with Emmanuel Macron, who was re-elected as French president last week.
"Modi's visit to France will provide an opportunity to carry forward high-level engagement between the two countries following the French presidential election," Kwatra said.
"Both countries have continuously nurtured and delivered on the ambition of their strategic partnership."
Asked whether the Ukraine crisis will figure in his talks with the European leaders, Kwatra said: "When the prime minister interfaces with the leaders, naturally issues of regional and global importance would also figure in the discussions."
"But the principal focus of the visit is to structure and strengthen bilateral partnership across a range of areas... and exchange perspectives on Ukraine issues."
Reflecting the EU's tough approach in dealing with the Russian aggression, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said at the Raisina Dialogue on Monday that Europe will make sure that Moscow's "unprovoked and unjustified" aggression against Ukraine will be a "strategic failure".
India has not yet publicly condemned the Russian attack on Ukraine and has been calling for a resolution of the conflict through dialogue and diplomacy.
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