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Walking a diplomatic tightrope, PM Modi to participate in Quad leaders’ virtual meeting today

The Quad leaders will exchange views and assessments about "important developments in the Indo-Pacific" (File image courtesy: Twitter/@NarendraModi)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will participate in a Quad Leaders' virtual meeting later today along with the US President Joe Biden, Australian PM Scott Morrison, and Prime Minister of Japan, Fumio Kishida.

The meeting takes place against the backdrop of ongoing crisis in Ukraine with India's Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) stating that the four leaders will exchange views and assessments about "important developments in the Indo-Pacific".

This will be the first meeting of the Quad grouping since the start of Russia-Ukraine crisis. Last month, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar had participated in the 4th Quad Foreign Ministers' meeting in Melbourne, along with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and the foreign ministers of Japan and Australia.

"The Leaders will have an opportunity to continue their dialogue after the September 2021 Summit in Washington DC. They will exchange views and assessments about important developments in the Indo-Pacific," the MEA said in a statement ahead of Thursday's meeting.

"The Quad Leaders will also review ongoing efforts to implement the Leaders' initiatives announced as part of the Quad's contemporary and positive agenda," it added.

India had last night abstained from voting on a United Nations' General Assembly resolution demanding that the Russian Federation should "immediately end its invasion of Ukraine" and unconditionally withdraw all its military forces from the neighbouring country.

Also Read: India sticks to neutral stand, abstains again from voting against Russia at UN

The measure was adopted by a vote of 141 in favour to 5 against (Belarus, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Eritrea, Russian Federation, and Syria) with 35 abstentions.

"We remain firm in our conviction that differences can only be resolved through dialogue and diplomacy. Prime Minister Modi has unequivocally conveyed this in his discussions with world leaders, including of the Russian Federation and Ukraine," said T S Tirumurti, India's Permanent Representative to the United Nations.  

US President Joe Biden had on February 24 stated that Washington continues to be in consultation with India, one of its major defence partners, on the issue.

"We haven't resolved that completely," he had said when asked if India was fully in sync with the United States on Ukraine and Russia.

Not just Moscow but Beijing too would be keeping a close watch on today's virtual meet.  

As the Quad foreign ministers went into a huddle Down Under on February 11 deepening their alliance, China had labelled Quad as "essentially a tool for containing and besieging China to maintain US hegemony".

"I want to stress that as the Cold War is long over, the attempt to forge a so-called alliance to contain China wins no support and leads nowhere. Relevant countries should abandon the antiquated Cold War mentality, correct the wrong approach of bloc confrontation and geopolitical games, and contribute to peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian had said last month.

Also Read: PM Modi and Russian President Putin speak once again, discuss evacuation of Indian citizens from Kharkiv through humanitarian corridor