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India’s Modi Rejects Condemning of Russia at Quad Meeting, Insists on Diplomacy and Ending Hostilities

March 4, 2022 (EIRNS)—The March 3 meeting of the four-nation “Quad” grouping—Japan, Australia, India and the U.S.—didn’t end quite as the U.S. had hoped. As India’s WION TV reported, Washington’s hope was that this emergency virtual meeting, attended by U.S. President Joe Biden, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida of Japan, Prime Minister Scott Morrison of Australia and Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India, would form a united front and issue a statement that condemned Russia’s military operation, or “invasion,” of Ukraine; but Modi wouldn’t go along with it, calling instead for an end of hostilities and diplomacy. The White House readout of the meeting thus only mentioned that the group discussed the Ukrainian situation, “assessed its broader implications,” and otherwise committed the group to “a free and open Indo-Pacific in which the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all states is respected and countries are free from military, economic and political coercion.”

Notably, the readout issued by India’s Ministry of External Affairs underscored Modi’s insistence that the Quad remain focused on its core objective “of promoting peace, stability and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific.” On Ukraine, the readout mentions that Modi emphasized “the need to return to a path of dialogue and diplomacy.”

According to both Axios and RT March 3, the U.S. has been squeezing India to abandon its neutral line toward Russia and to publicly condemn Putin, which it has so far refused to do. Both these media sources reported that the State Department was forced to backtrack after it sent a cable on Feb. 28 to embassies in 50 countries that are represented on the UN Human Rights Council instructing them to inform their counterparts from India and the U.A.E., that because of their neutrality on Russia, they are now “in Russia’s camp.” But when the State Department recalled the cable one day later, a spokesman explained to an Axios reporter that “the language in question was never intended for clearance and the cable was released in error, which is why it was recalled.”

The cable included “talking points” on how the Indian and U.A.E. representatives should be approached, with statements such as, “continuing to call for dialogue, as you have been doing in the Security Council, is not a stance of neutrality; it places you in Russia’s camp, the aggressor in this conflict. We strongly encourage you to take the opportunity to support Ukraine in the HRC [Human Rights Council], an opportunity you failed to seize in the UNSC.” At the UN General Assembly vote on March 2, India abstained, and the U.A.E. voted for it; last week, China, India and the U.A.E. abstained on a UN Security Council vote that denounced Russian “aggression” in Ukraine.

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