Tokyo [Japan], May 20: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday met Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy for bilateral talks on the sidelines of the G7 summit in the Japanese city of Hiroshima.
This is the first time the two leaders are meeting in person since the beginning of the Russian-Ukraine conflict in February last year. PM Modi has spoken to Russian President Vladimir Putin as well as President Zelenskyy a number of times.
The Prime Minister’s Office shared photographs of the meeting in which India’s national security advisor Ajit Doval was also present.
The Ukrainian president who arrived in Hiroshima today is attending the summit on an invitation by Japan, the current chair of the Group of Seven countries.
New Delhi has sought a diplomatic solution to the conflict while PM Modi, in comments seen as mildly critical of Russian President Vladimir Putin, told him in September that the current era was “not an era of war.”
Prime Minister Modi’s appeal to President Putin for a “cessation of violence” and for all sides to return to the dialogue table was certainly a notch up from India’s earlier explicitly neutral stance, and carried a hint of the compulsions to get off the fence, though still largely maintaining a balance.
PM Modi’s phone conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin underlined that Delhi will for now stick to a path of strategic ambivalence on the Ukraine crisis. This is a pragmatic choice, one that reflects the complexities of a realist world and Delhi’s own positions on territorial integrity and sovereignty, its own concerns about its unresolved borders, it’s a difficult relationship with its two northern neighbours.
In a phone conversation with President Zelenskyy on October 4 last year, PM Modi said there can be “no military solution” and that India is ready to contribute to any peace efforts.
India has maintained that the crisis must be resolved through diplomacy and dialogue.
PM Modi is in Japan to attend the Group of Seven (G7) summit at the invitation of his Japanese counterpart, Fumio Kishida.
PM Modi will be in Hiroshima for the G7 summit from May 19 to May 21. He is expected to speak on global challenges, including food, fertiliser and energy security.
Live footage on Japan’s public broadcaster, NHK, showed Zelenskyy stepping off a French plane at an airport in Hiroshima. A red carpet was rolled out minutes before his arrival, and he was immediately whisked away in a black sedan, according to the New York Times.
“Important meetings with partners and friends of Ukraine. Security and enhanced cooperation for our victory. Peace will become closer today,” Zelenskyy tweeted on arrival in Japan.
The Ukrainian leader, who made a surprise visit to an Arab League summit in Saudi Arabia on Friday, is looking to rally the international community to increase sanctions on Russia and pledge further support for Ukraine, according to a report in Al Jazeera.
Zelenskyy’s visit comes a day after US President Biden informed the G7 leaders in Hiroshima that the US would support the joint allied training of Ukrainian pilots on fourth-generation fighter jets, including the F-16. Once the training gets underway, it would be decided when and how many aircraft would be delivered and who in the coalition would provide them.
Biden said he was also prepared to let other countries give F-16s to Ukraine, reported The New York Times. (Agencies)
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