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Monday, June 27, 2022

Modi, Biden will discuss war in Ukraine and food security at Quad meeting

Responding to questions on India's ban on wheat exports, Sullivan told reporters on Air Force One, the US President's aircraft, “Food security will be a topic of conversation at the Quad.”

Written by Shubhajit Roy | New Delhi |
Updated: May 23, 2022 7:17:17 am
Joe Biden, Narendra Modi, Russia Ukraine, Russia Ukraine Crisis, Russia-Ukraine tension, Ukraine, Ukraine Crisis, India-Ukraine-Russia, Anthony Albanese, Indian Express, India news, current affairs, Indian Express News Service, Express News Service, Express News, Indian Express India NewsUS President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. (Express File)

US President Joe Biden will have a “constructive and straightforward” conversation with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the “impact” of Russia’s “brutal invasion of Ukraine”, US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said on Sunday, ahead of their bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the Quad Leaders’ Summit in Tokyo on May 24.

Responding to questions on India’s ban on wheat exports, Sullivan told reporters on Air Force One, the US President’s aircraft, “Food security will be a topic of conversation at the Quad.”

The discussion on Ukraine between Biden and Modi “won’t be a new conversation”, Sullivan said. “It will be a continuation of the conversation they’ve already had about how we see the picture in Ukraine and the impacts of Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine on a wider set of concerns in the world, including this food security concern.”

The American NSA said the two leaders have already had the opportunity to engage on the issue of Ukraine, and Biden had an extended discussion with Modi at the virtual Quad Summit in March.

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“And they also got to speak about it when they had a short video bilateral meeting at the top of the 2+2 when the Indian ministers came to Washington,” he said.

“So, they’ll talk all of that through. And I will leave the specifics of it to what has been a set of private and constructive exchanges, and I expect that this will similarly be constructive and straightforward,” Sullivan said.

Modi, who left for Tokyo on Sunday night, said in a pre-departure statement, “I will hold a bilateral meeting with President Joseph Biden, where we will discuss further consolidation of our multifaceted bilateral relations with the US. We will also continue our dialogue on regional developments and contemporary global issues.”

Asked about Washington’s balancing act between economic cooperation and accountability on human rights issues, Sullivan said: “President Biden has been clear from the beginning of this administration that we’ll speak out when we see any form of departure from or deviation from basic principles, fundamental freedoms, human rights, the values of democratic institutions, and the rule of law. That’s true for a range of countries. And, you know, we don’t single India out.”

He said the US had “found a way both to pursue practical cooperation with countries that are democratic and non-democratic, while at the same time being clear and consistent of where our values lie”.

Sources said the Quad leaders — Prime Minister Modi, President Biden, Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, and the newly-elected Prime Minister of Australia Anthony Albanese — are expected to launch a new maritime initiative aimed at curbing illegal fishing in the Indo-Pacific. This is aimed at countering China, which is responsible for an estimated 80 to 95 per cent of the illegal fishing in the region.

The planned initiative will use satellite technology to interlink maritime surveillance centres in Singapore, India, and other parts of the Indo-Pacific, and prevent Chinese vessels from fishing illegally in the region.

In his statement, Modi said, “In Japan, I will…participate in the second in-person Quad Leaders’ Summit, which will provide an opportunity for the leaders of the four Quad countries to review the progress of Quad initiatives. We will also exchange views about developments in the Indo-Pacific region and global issues of mutual interest.”

Prime Minister Albanese would join the Quad Leaders’ Summit for the first time, Modi said. “I look forward to a bilateral meeting with him during which the multifaceted cooperation between India and Australia under the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, and regional and global issues of mutual interest will be discussed.”

With 71 per cent of the vote counted in Australia’s federal elections until Sunday night, the Labour Party led by Albanese had won 72 seats, four short of majority in the 151-seat House of Representatives, the lower house of parliament, The Sydney Morning Herald reported on its website.

Albanese and his core team, including Foreign Affairs Minister Penny Wong, were scheduled to be sworn into office on Monday. Wong will accompany Albanese to Tokyo.

Modi recalled in his statement that he had hosted Japan’s Prime Minister Kishida for the 14th India-Japan Annual Summit in March this year. “During my visit to Tokyo, I look forward to continuing our conversation further, with an aim to strengthen the India-Japan Special Strategic and Global Partnership.”

Modi and Kishida are likely to meet on Tuesday, as per the current schedule. “Economic cooperation between India and Japan is an important aspect of our Special Strategic and Global Partnership,” Modi said. During the March Summit, the two leaders had announced their “intention to realize JPY 5 trillion in public and private investment and financing over the next five years from Japan to India”, he said.

Modi said he would also meet with Japanese business leaders “with the goal of further strengthening economic linkages between our countries”. A series of meetings with leaders of Japanese industry — including Nobuhiro Endo, chairman of IT and electronics company NEC Corporation, Tadashi Yanai, chairman/ president & CEO of the clothing brand UNIQLO, Osamu Suzuki, Adviser, Suzuki Motor Corporation, and Masayoshi Son, board director at Softbank Group Corp. — are lined up for Monday afternoon, followed by a roundtable with Japanese business leaders in the evening.

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In between, the Prime Minister will attend the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework event hosted by President Biden, during which a wide-ranging trade agreement is expected to be launched, with separate modules for “fair and resilient trade, supply chain resilience, infrastructure and decarbonisation, and tax and anti-corruption”.

Japan is home to nearly 40,000 members of the Indian diaspora, and Modi said he looked forward to interacting with their representatives. An interaction with the Indian community is scheduled for Monday evening.

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