Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi embarked on a three-day tour of Europe on Monday to boost India’s ‘spirit of cooperation’ with its European partners and to ‘discuss’ Russia’s invasion of Ukraine which New Delhi rejected.
“My visit to Europe comes at a time when the region faces many challenges and choices,” Modi said in a statement before flying to Europe. He is expected in Germany, Denmark and France.
India is seeking a delicate balance between its relations with the West and relations with Russia, which supplies much of its weapons and energy needs. He refrained from publicly condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and from joining the vote to that effect at the United Nations.
Mr Modi added that his trip was aimed at “raising the spirit of cooperation” with European partners, “an important companion in India’s quest for peace and prosperity”.
At a press conference on Sunday, India’s Foreign Minister Vinay Kwatra said Modi should “change views” on the situation in Ukraine.
European countries “not only understand but greatly appreciate” India’s stance on the conflict, he added.
However, according to Kwatra, Modi’s visit was primarily aimed at strengthening bilateral partnerships, particularly in the areas of trade, energy and sustainable development.
In Berlin on Monday, Mr Modi will meet German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.
In an interview with the “Indian Express” daily published on Monday, Scholz indicated that “Russian attacks on Ukraine will be high on the agenda”.
According to Bloomberg News, Scholz plans to invite Modi as a special guest to a summit of G7 leaders next month, as part of a move to forge a broader alliance against Russia.
According to the agency citing unnamed sources, a few weeks ago Mr. Scholz still hesitated, remembering Mr. Modi to condemn the Russian invasion and the surge in the supply of Russian fossil fuels to India.
The Indian prime minister will then travel to Copenhagen for an India-Nordic summit with the prime ministers of Denmark, Iceland, Finland, Sweden and Norway on May 3-4.
During a brief sojourn in France on May 4, he will meet with President Emmanuel Macron to discuss regional and global issues as well as bilateral cooperation, according to a press release.
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