June 20 (Reuters) – Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said that India’s stance on Russia in the Ukraine conflict has not faced widespread criticism in the United States.
Asked in an interview with the Wall Street Journal about critical comments in the U.S. for not taking a more forceful stance against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Modi said: “I don’t think this type of perception is widespread in the U.S.”
“I think India’s position is well known and well understood in the entire world. The world has full confidence that India’s top-most priority is peace.”
Modi left on Tuesday on a state visit to the U.S. billed as a turning point for bilateral relations, with deeper cooperation in defence and high technology in focus.
New Delhi has refused to condemn its old ally Russia for the war in Ukraine and has increased its trade with Moscow to record levels, driven largely by imports of Russian oil.
President Joe Biden has been eager to strengthen relations with India as part of his bid to win what he has framed as a contest between free and autocratic societies, especially China.
Modi called for changes to global institutions like the United Nations to adapt them for an increasingly “multipolar world order”, and make them more representative of the world’s less-affluent countries, the report said. India would like to be a permanent member of the Security Council, he said.
“The world should be asked if it wants India to be there,” he said.
Modi also said that India’s ties with China could only progress if there was peace on the border between the two Asian giants.
India and China have fortified positions and deployed large numbers of troops and equipment in the western Himalayas in the last three years, after a clash in which 20 Indian soldiers and four Chinese soldiers were killed in hand-to-hand fighting.
“For normal bilateral ties with China, peace and tranquillity in the border areas is essential,” Modi told the paper.
“We have a core belief in respecting sovereignty and territorial integrity, observing the rule of law and peaceful resolution of differences and disputes. At the same time, India is fully prepared and committed to protect its sovereignty and dignity.”
Reporting by Lavanya Ahire and Abinaya Vijayaraghavan in Bengaluru; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman and Raju Gopalakrishnan
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