Prime Minister Narendra Modi and French President Emmanuel Macron discussed the “cascading effects” of the war in Ukraine, especially goods shortages in developing countries, in a meeting last week and agreed to play a constructive role in addressing these challenges.
While India expectedly didn’t join France, a key European and Indo-Pacific partner, in condemning Russia’s aggression, foreign secretary Vinay Kwatra said after the meeting that there was a clear and broad understanding between the two countries of each other’s position on Ukraine.
India and France condemned the civilian deaths and sought cessation of hostilities but, unlike in the case with Germany and the Nordic countries, the joint statement also emphasised on bringing the warring “parties together to promote dialogue and diplomacy to find an immediate end to the suffering of the people”. While India wants to retain the option of reaching out to both Russia and Ukraine to "bridge the gap" between them, the French position is also nuanced as Macron, while supporting sanctions against Russia, continues to seek dialogue with his counterpart Vladimir Putin to end the conflict. The French President is learnt to have briefed Modi about his two-hour long conversation with Putin.
"The two leaders agreed that close coordination and engagement was important. So that both India and France can play a constructive role in the evolving situation. They exchanged views on the cascading effects of the situation in Ukraine, in terms of global food shortages, shortages of commodities such as fertilizers and how the two countries can partner together to address some of these challenges," said Kwatra.
The meeting also focused on the Indo-Pacific region where France is a key partner and defence cooperation as the two sides discussed co-development and co-production of defence equipment in India. “As seen in the timely delivery of the Rafale despite the pandemic, the two sides enjoy synergy in the field of defence. Taking forward this momentum, and based on their mutual trust, both sides agreed to find creative ways for France’s deeper involvement in the ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ (self-reliant India) efforts in advanced defence technology, manufacturing and exports, including through encouraging increased industry to industry partnerships,” said the joint statement.
Post-pandemic recovery, sustainable development and calls to invest in India’s blue economy (ma rine resources) dominated discussions at the second India-Nordic Summit in Copenhagen. On Ukraine, PM Modi joined the leaders of Norway, Sweden, Iceland, Finland and Denmark in expressing concern on the humanitarian crisis and civilian deaths while the Nordic PMs condemned Russia’s “aggression”.
The Norwegian Prime Minister was quoted as saying India and the Nordic countries have different approaches.
India, Denmark ink 9 pacts
India and Denmark signed nine agreements as they reviewed their Green Strategic Partnership and discussed cooperation in renewable energy, especially offshore wind energy and green hydrogen. Denmark PM Mette Frederiksen also joined Modi at an Indian community reception where she, while welcoming Modi, said democracies like India and Denmark needed to stand together on the Ukraine issue for the principles they believed in.