Paris: India and France have unequivocally condemned the civilian deaths in Ukraine, called for an immediate cessation of hostilities and agreed to remain engaged in dealing with the global implications of the conflict, especially in addressing the risk of aggravated food crisis as a result of the strife.
The situation in Ukraine figured in the talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and French President Emmanuel Macron at the Elysee Palace here on Wednesday in their first meeting after the French leader was re-elected in the presidential election.
After the Modi-Macron talks, Foreign Secretary Vinay Mohan Kwatra said that there was a broad understanding of each other’s position on the Ukraine issue and they spoke extensively on the “cascading effect” of the conflict and agreed to coordinate “very closely” and play a “constructive role” in the evolving situation.
A joint statement said the two leaders discussed the regional and global implications of the conflict in Ukraine and agreed to intensify coordination on the issue, particularly for a coordinated and multilateral response to address the risk of a global food crisis.
Ukraine is one of the main wheat producers globally and the conflict has triggered a shortage in the supply of the commodity at the global market.
“India and France expressed serious concern at the ongoing conflict and humanitarian crisis in Ukraine. They unequivocally condemned civilian deaths in Ukraine and called for an immediate cessation of hostilities to bring parties together to promote dialogue and diplomacy to find an immediate end to the suffering of the people,” it said.
“Both countries underlined the need to respect the UN Charter, international law and the sovereignty and territorial integrity of states. The two leaders discussed the regional and global implications of the conflict in Ukraine and agreed to intensify coordination on the issue,” it said.
It further said France reiterated its “strong condemnation of the unlawful and unprovoked aggression against Ukraine by Russian Forces”.
A press release issued by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said two leaders held discussions on the entire range of bilateral issues, including cooperation in defence, space, blue economy, civil nuclear and people-to-people ties.
“The two leaders also took stock of the regional and global security outlook and discussed ways to work together in making the India- France Strategic Partnership a force for global good,” it said.
“The prime minister’s visit to France displayed the strong friendship and goodwill not only between the two countries but also between the two leaders,” the MEA said adding Modi invited Macron to visit India at the earliest opportunity.
According to the statement, India and France express deep concern about the current aggravation of global food security and nutrition, already impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, especially in developing countries.
“They are committed to enabling a coordinated, multilateral response to address the risk of aggravated food crisis because of the conflict in Ukraine, including through initiatives such as the Food and Agriculture Resilience Mission (FARM), which aims at ensuring well-functioning markets, solidarity and long-term resilience,” it said.
At a media briefing, Kwatra said Modi and Macron spoke “very extensively” on the “cascading effect” of the situation in Ukraine in terms of global food shortages as well as the impact on other commodities such as fertilisers and how the two countries can partner together in order to address some of these challenges.
Asked whether there were any discussions on how India and France could use their friendship or their influence to bring the Russia and Ukraine war to some kind of a conclusion, Kwatra said the two leaders exchanged their perspectives on the developments there.
“Prime Minister Modi gave a very elaborate understanding of the space from where Indian position originated in counts for, which calls for the immediate cessation of hostilities and the resolution to the ongoing situation through diplomacy and dialogue,” Kwatra said.
“The two leaders also spoke very extensively, exchanged views very extensively on the cascading effect of the situation in Ukraine, in terms of Global Food shortages, shortages of Commodities, such as fertiliser and how the two countries can partner together in order to address some of these challenges which are very real and felt on the ground.
The foreign secretary said Modi and Macron did agree to “stay in touch and coordinate very closely”.
“So that as the situation evolves, they can both individually or together play a constructive role in this situation, in order so that all these challenges, which I talked about can be resolved,” he added.
India has not yet publicly condemned the Russian attack on Ukraine and has been calling for the resolution of the conflict through dialogue and diplomacy. Modi concluded his three-nation visit of Germany, Denmark and France with a meeting with the French President.
Macron has been playing a leading role in defusing the crisis in Ukraine.
Modi’s visit comes amid the Ukraine crisis, which has united much of Europe against Russia. It also comes a day after Macron spoke to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Macron urged Russia to rise to the level of its responsibility as a permanent member of the US Security Council by ending this devastating aggression. He is one of the very few Western leaders who is still maintaining touch with Putin.
The Ukraine crisis figured in Modi’s meetings in Berlin and Copenhagen as well.
India and France have been strategic partners since 1998.
“The strategic partnership is anchored on the solid bedrock of deep and consistent mutual trust, abiding faith in strategic autonomy, unwavering commitment to international law; and belief in a multipolar world shaped by reformed and effective multilateralism,” the joint statement said.
“Both are committed to the shared values of democracy, fundamental freedoms, rule of law and respect for human rights,” it said.