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India's Modi, Germany's Scholz call for peace

May 2, 2022

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz did not take questions from reporters following their talks in Berlin, reportedly at Modi's insistence.

Narendra Modi meets Olaf Scholz
The two leaders met as India faces pressure to condemn the Russian invasion of UkraineImage: Michael Kappeler/dpa/picture alliance

Germany will make €10 billion ($10.5 billion) available for bilateral cooperation with India in the coming years, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced on Monday after welcoming Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Berlin.

Scholz praised India as Germany's central partner in Asia and said that "close cooperation with India on global issues is something I very much wanted to continue and to expand."

Following the meeting with Scholz, Modi will visit Denmark to meet with the leaders of the Nordic countries at the two-day India-Nordic summit. Afterward, he will visit French President Emmanuel Macron.

What did Modi and Scholz say on Ukraine?

The German chancellor also commented on the Ukraine crisis, calling on Russian President Vladimir Putin to end the conflict.

"Stop this war, stop this senseless murder, withdraw your troops," Scholz said in his appeal to Putin.

'You cannot change borders through violence'

The German chancellor said he and Modi agreed "that you cannot change borders through might and violence."

Modi said he was "pleased" that his first trip abroad in 2022 was with "my friend, Chancellor Scholz," calling it a sign of how much each country prioritized its relationship with the other.

The Indian leader also said that "recent geopolitical events have shown how fragile peace and stability in the world are, and how interconnected countries are."

"At the beginning of the crisis in Ukraine, we immediately called for a ceasefire and emphasized the fact that dialogue was the only way to resolve the conflict."

"We believe that no party can emerge victorious in this war, everyone will suffer losses, and that is why we are for peace," Modi said.

The two leaders did not take questions at their joint press conference, reportedly due to Modi's insistence.

Ahead of his trip, Modi said that his "visit to Europe comes at a time when the region faces many challenges and choices." He said he wanted to "strengthen the spirit of cooperation" with European partners who are "important companions in India's quest for peace and prosperity."

What is India's relationship with Russia?

 New Delhi abstained in a UN vote condemning Moscow's invasion of Ukraine, while calling for an end to hostilities.

The Asian nation imports much of its military hardware from Russia and has long maintained close relations with both the West and Moscow.

India has significantly increased imports of Russian oil from March onwards. The Times of India reported that some 50 Indian exporters will head to Moscow later in May after enquiries from Russian firms. "The attack on Ukraine by Russia is on the top of the agenda for all of Europe and beyond," Scholz was cited as saying by the Indian Express.

"The brutality of the Russian aggression against civilians in Ukraine is shocking and appalling. Massacres against the civilian population are war crimes and those responsible must be held accountable," Scholz said, adding that he was sure that there was agreement between Berlin and New Delhi on this issue.

The Indian Express cited Scholz as saying that he and Modi would also discuss climate change, efforts for sustainable development and strengthening ties between India and the EU.

Indian Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra said that European countries "not only understand but also have deep appreciation" of India's position on the war in Ukraine.

Kwatra said that the principal focus of discussions is to strengthen bilateral partnership between India and Europe  in trade, energy and sustainable development.

Olaf Scholz welcomes Narendra Modi
Climate change was also set to be part of talks between the two leaders and India swelters under a deadly heatwaveImage: Michael Sohn/AP/picture alliance

New Delhi under pressure to condemn Russia

India has long maintained close relations with the Soviet Union and then Russia. At the same time, it is part of the "Quad" Indo-Pacific security forum alongside the United States, Australia and Japan. The other three members have condemned Russia's invasion and pressured India to take a more robust stance.

In mid-April, US President Joe Biden urged Modi not to accelerate its purchase of Russian oil, saying that relying on Russian energy would not benefit India's position in the world.

Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar said in response that India's energy imports from Russia were far less than those of Europe.

"I suspect, looking at the figures, probably our total purchases for the month would be less than what Europe does in an afternoon," Jaishankar said.

Meanwhile, Germany has also been under a degree of pressure from several of its European and NATO allies to reduce its energy imports from Russia. Before Russia invaded Ukraine, the establishment of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline that was to bring gas directly through Germany without using Ukraine and other countries as intermediaries was opposed by the United States.

On Monday, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said that Berlin was ready to support a gradual, EU-wide embargo on Russian oil imports. Kyiv has demanded its allies impose a full embargo on Russian oil and gas.

sdi, es/dj (AFP, dpa)

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