Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Finland PM Sanna Marin on the sidelines of the 2nd India Nordic Summit, in Copenhagen on Wednesday (Images courtesy: PIB)
Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrives in France – the last leg of his hectic three-day, three nation tour – late Wednesday as several nations are now looking at India's mediation in the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine.
Even though it is being labelled just as a "brief stopover" in Paris, Modi and French President Emmanuel Macron, who is himself in the thick of diplomacy to end the conflict, are bound to discuss the Ukraine situation during their talks.
In a phone conversation, which according to the French media lasted over two hours Tuesday evening, Macron had spoken to Russian President Vladimir Putin in a bid to explain the "extreme gravity of the consequences" of the escalating situation.
At the same time in Copenhagen, while making her country and European Union's position "clear" on Ukraine, Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen was urging PM Modi to play peacemaker in the current crisis.
"We would like to see India use its influence with Putin," said Frederiksen.
PM Modi reiterated India's stand for an immediate ceasefire in Ukraine and adoption of dialogue and diplomacy to resolve the problem.
Ukraine and 'regional situation' was also discussed extensively when the heads of government from Norway, Sweden, Iceland and Finland met the Indian Prime Minister on the sidelines of the 2nd India Nordic Summit today.
"I met with India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi today. Good discussions on bilateral cooperation, within Green Transition, Blue Economy, we agreed on Task Force on Energy, great potential in renewables. Also exchange on Russia's war in Ukraine, shared Norways condemnation," tweeted Norway PM Jonas Gahr Store after his first meeting with PM Modi since assuming office in October 2021.
On Monday, during his meeting with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Berlin, PM Modi had highlighted that India remains "deeply concerned" by the humanitarian impact of the ongoing conflict, saying that New Delhi believes that there will be no winning party in this war and everyone would suffer.
"That is why we are in favour of peace. Oil prices are skyrocketing due to the turmoil triggered by the Ukraine conflict; there is also shortage of foodgrains and fertilizers in the world. This has burdened every family in the world, but its impact on developing and poor countries will be even more serious," said PM Modi.
India has expressed its position on the Russia-Ukraine crisis – including to the visiting heads of states like British PM Boris Johnson, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and several foreign ministers – a number of times ever since Moscow began its 'special military operation' on February 24.
New Delhi has maintained that its international partners have not only a complete understanding of India's position, but also share deep appreciation in favour of the Modi government.
"I think it is very clear, very directly, very clearly, that with our partners, the European partners, the rest of those who are our allies at the international level are completely clear about it," said India's new Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra, last Sunday.
Meanwhile, talks on growing India-France strategic partnership in areas like defence, clean energy environment, space, digital, manufacturing in high end sectors, are also expected to take place when PM Modi meets Macron tonight
This will be the first meeting between the two leaders after Macron was re-elected as French President in the presidential elections last month.
India and France are celebrating 75 years of their diplomatic relations this year and the meeting between the two leaders is expected to set a more ambitious agenda of the Strategic Partnership.
— Arindam Bagchi (@MEAIndia) May 4, 2022
New Delhi and Paris have already made it clear that their partnership is "more relevant today than ever" as they deepen cooperation in defence and security besides making the blue economy a driver of progress for both the countries.
It is also expected that Modi and Macron will hold further discussions on jointly developing high thrust aircraft engines under the Indian government's initiative to promote self-reliance in defence manufacturing and also a possible collaboration on nuclear-powered submarines.