Updated: April 25, 2022 8:37:01 am
Days after British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s visit to India at least eight leaders and ministers from Europe are scheduled to be in the country over the next couple of days, including Ursula von der Leyen, the President of the European Commission.
Von der Leyen, who was Germany’s defence minister under Chancellor Angela Merkel until 2019, will meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday, where the crisis arising out of the Russia-Ukraine conflict is expected to come up for discussion.
The foreign ministers of Poland, Lithuania, Slovenia, Portugal, the Netherlands, Norway, and Luxembourg are also expected to be in India.
While they are all coming for the Raisina Dialogue, the flagship conference on geo-politics and geo-economics organised by the Ministry of External Affairs and the Observer Research Foundation on April 25-27, the war in Ukraine is likely to dominate their conversations with Indian interlocutors.
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Prime Minister Johnson too discussed the war with the Indian leadership.
The foreign ministers of Argentina, Armenia, Guyana, Nigeria, Madagascar, and Philippines too are expected to attend the conference. Also likely to be present are the former PM of Sweden Carl Bildt, the former PM of Canada Stephen Harper, the former President of the Maldives Mohamed Nasheed, and the former Australian PM Anthony Abbott.
The conference beginning Monday comes a week before PM Narendra Modi leaves for Germany and Denmark on his first overseas visit this year. He may also go to France, depending on the outcome of Sunday’s French presidential election.
In Berlin, the PM will meet with Chancellor Olaf Scholz on May 2, before heading to Copenhagen where he will meet the PMs of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Sweden and Norway for the India-Nordic summit. There too, the Ukraine-Russia crisis is expected to top the agenda.
Earlier this month, President Von der Leyen became the first European leader to visit Bucha, the suburb of Kyiv where evidence of possible war crimes was found after the Russian soldiers retreated. She told Ukraine that the EU would continue to support the country and would make Russia’s President Vladimir Putin pay a “heavy price” for his war. Ukrainian officials say more than 300 people were killed by Russian forces in Bucha, and around 50 of them were executed. Moscow denies the accusations.
India has condemned the civilian killings in Bucha, but has not named Russia, and has called for an independent probe.
New Delhi has been engaged by European countries over the last two months on its position on the war, which is seen to be neutral.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Chinese Foreign minister Wang Yi too visited India in March.
External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar met with his counterparts from the Philippines, Argentina, and Nigeria on Sunday.
After the meeting with the Philippines Foreign Minister Teddy Locsin, Jaishankar tweeted: “Appreciated his insights and perspectives on Indo-Pacific, Europe, Myanmar, Ukraine and Multilateralism. Reviewed the progress in bilateral ties since our last meeting in February.”
On the meeting with Argentina’s Santiago Cafiero, Jaishankar tweeted, “A productive meeting with FM @SantiagoCafiero of Argentina on his first visit to India. Discussed expanding our bilateral trade and cooperating in agriculture, pharmaceuticals, electronics,e-mobility, defence & atomic energy. Will work closely in G20 and multilateral forums.”
On his meeting with Nigeria’s Geoffrey Onyeama, Jaishankar tweeted: “Agreed to expand our development partnership focusing on health, infrastructure, education, agriculture and capacity building. Also spoke of more trade and investments. Discussed our plans on defence and security cooperation. Exchanged views on the Commonwealth, UN and African Union.”
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