Biden tells Modi more Russian oil imports that are not in India’s interest War news between Russia and Ukraine

US President Joe Biden has held a “constructive, direct conversation” with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the White House said as the US sought more help from India to put economic pressure on Russia in connection with its invasion of Ukraine.

In a news briefing Monday afternoon, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Biden told Modi that his administration could help India diversify its oil imports – but that it was not in New Delhi’s interest to increase energy imports from Moscow.

The Biden administration has already made it clear that it does not want to see a significant increase in Russian energy imports from India, which has bought at least 13 million barrels of reduced Russian crude oil since the country invaded Ukraine in late February.

“The president … conveyed that we are here to help them diversify their opportunities to import oil. Imports from the United States are already significant, much larger than the imports they receive from Russia,” Psaki told reporters.

“The president made it very clear that it is not in their interest to increase it.”

She did not say whether the United States had received commitments from India on energy imports.

Monday’s virtual talks, which preceded a “US-India 2 + 2 ministerial meeting”, included US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, Indian Secretary of State Subrahmanyam Jaishankar and Indian Secretary of Defense Rajnath Singh.

The discussion came as New Delhi continues to try to balance its ties with Moscow and the West, which have imposed a series of sanctions on Russia over the Ukraine war and called on nations to move away from Russian energy supplies as a way to put pressure on the president. . Vladimir Putin.

Modi spoke through a translator on Monday ahead of his meeting with Biden, saying he had suggested direct talks between Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

“I spoke several times on the phone with the presidents of both Ukraine and Russia,” Modi said. “I not only appealed to them for peace, but also suggested that President Putin hold direct talks with the Ukrainian president.”

The situation in Ukraine is “worrying”, said Modi, who also condemned the killings in the Ukrainian city of Bucha, where the discovery of hundreds of civilian bodies following a Russian withdrawal from the city sparked international outrage, and called for an independent investigation.

For his part, Biden opened negotiations with the Indian Prime Minister by emphasizing the defense partnership between the two countries, saying that the United States and India will “continue our close consultation on how to deal with the destabilizing effects of this Russian war”.

“The root of our partnership is a deep connection between our people, family ties, friendships and common values,” the US president said.

But the war in Ukraine has been a source of tension in recent weeks, with Biden having previously said India was “somewhat appalling at Ukraine”.

India is a member of the so-called Quad group – which also includes the United States, Japan and Australia and apparently acts as a regional bulwark against Chinese expansion – but has not imposed sanctions on Russia like other members.

The lure of steep rebates following Western sanctions against Russian entities marked India’s recent purchase of at least 13 million barrels of Russian crude oil a sharp increase from last year; it imported about 16 million barrels throughout 2021, according to data collected by the news agency Reuters.

The US Deputy National Security Adviser on International Economics, Daleep Singh, who visited India recently, said earlier that the US will not set any “red line” for India for its energy imports from Russia, but does not want to see a “rapid acceleration” in procurement .

Russia has long been India’s largest supplier of defense equipment despite increasing purchases from the United States in the past decade.

India abstained when the United Nations General Assembly last week voted to suspend Russia from the 47-man Human Rights Council over allegations that Russian soldiers in Ukraine participated in rights violations that Washington and Kyiv have called war crimes.

During his previous press conference, Psaki said the United States has seen India speak out more strongly against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, especially “as it relates to the horrific images we saw around Bucha”.

“We have seen them take steps to provide humanitarian aid and a range of aid, but it is something we always urge leaders to do – to say no, to be loud, to make sure they are on the right side of the story, “she said.

“But this was a constructive call, it was a productive call. It is a relationship that is very important to the United States and to the President. I would not see it as a conflicting call.”

The two leaders had last spoken in March as part of a broader meeting between Quad leaders.

Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Blinken said he looked forward to discussing a number of issues with Indian officials during the “US-India 2 + 2 Ministerial” meeting on Monday afternoon, including efforts to end the COVID-19 pandemic and address the climate crisis .

“I also look forward to talking about our security cooperation in the Indo-Pacific,” Blinken told reporters.

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