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Jaishankar, Blinken discuss Indo-Pacific and Ukraine issues

Indian External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Thursday discussed the Indo-Pacific issue and the Ukraine issue over a phone call ahead of the 2+2 dialogue between the two countries scheduled in Washington for April 11.(File Photo)

Indian External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Thursday discussed the Indo-Pacific issue and the Ukraine issue over a phone call ahead of the 2+2 dialogue between the two countries scheduled in Washington for April 11.

"Just completed a useful conversation with @SecBlinken. Reviewed the progress on our bilateral cooperation. Discussed developments pertaining to the Indo-Pacific, Ukraine and the global economy," Jaishankar tweeted.

"Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with Indian External Affairs Minister Dr. Subrahmanyam Jaishankar today to review regional priorities, including the worsening humanitarian situation in Ukraine and our shared efforts to promote a free, open, secure, and prosperous Indo-Pacific, in which the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all states is respected," State Department spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement.

The EAM Jaishankar and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh will meet their counterparts Secretary of State Antony Blinken and US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin respectively. Jaishankar and Rajnath Singh will also have other meetings on the sidelines.

The talks also come in the backdrop of Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov's visit to India tomorrow.

Blinken has just finished a three-nation tour of the Middle East and North Africa on Wednesday during which he urged Algeria to limit ties with Russia.

India has maintained a neutral stand on the Ukraine crisis and abstained from voting against Russia at the UN.

India has close ties with the US and is a key partner in the Indo-Pacific Quad grouping aimed at reining in an aggressive China. But it also has a long-standing friendship with Russia, which is the main supplier of its defence equipment. Moscow has also supported India over the Kashmir issue at the UN which has been raked up by Pakistan on various occasions.

A senior White House official had last week said India's position at the United Nations over the Ukraine crisis has been "unsatisfactory" but was also “unsurprising” given its historical relationship with Russia.

Mira Rapp-Hooper, director for the Indo-Pacific on the White House National Security Council said that India needed alternatives to close ties with Russia.

Ms Rapp-Hooper said India had moved closer to Russia to bolster its defence since its relationship with China worsened.

US President Joe Biden had recently said India was an exception among Washington's allies with its "shaky" response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

However, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar has clearly stated : “India has always maintained a steadfast and consistent position on the Russia-Ukraine war, as per which it has called for an immediate end to violence and to solve the crisis via talks and diplomacy.”

New Delhi has also pointed out that it was in touch with both Ukraine and Russia and was ready to play its part in facilitating the peace process between the two countries.

Also read:  India has a special relationship with Russia and that is okay, says top US official