India’s neutrality on Ukraine has been raised with S Jaishankar and PM Narendra Modi since Rishi Sunak became PM



LONDON: UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak raised India’s neutral position on Ukraine with PM Narendra Modi during their recent phone call, it has emerged. UK foreign secretary James Cleverly also raised the issue “directly” with external affairs minister S Jaishankar on his recent trip to India.
The No. 10 readout of Sunak’s call with Modi did not mention Ukraine but it did say the two leaders “discussed shared global challenges”. But in a debate on Ukraine in the House of Lords on Tuesday, Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, UK junior minister for South Asia, confirmed the matter had been raised at the highest level.
He was responding to a question from Liberal Democrat peer Lord Purvis of Tweed, who asked: “Could the minister be specific about what we are saying to our allies in the Gulf and India in particular? Have the foreign secretary and the prime minister raised at the highest levels the concern about the impact of our allies in effectively providing neutrality but also therefore de facto support? This is a challenging area for the UK’s foreign policy, but one we need to tackle. It would be depressing if we are too reliant on the Gulf’s inward investment and too hopeful for a trade deal with India if that prevents us from having very hard conversations with our allies.”
Lord Ahmad responded that Cleverly “raised the issue directly with EAM Jaishankar” on his recent trip to India. Then he said: “I know that Prime Minister Sunak has also spoken to Prime Minister Modi and again the situation in Ukraine was part and parcel of their discussions, and that will continue.”
He added that the UK was already seeing “progress”. He said: “Specifically, we have seen certain Gulf states move their positions from abstention to supporting Ukraine’s position within multilateral fora, particularly the UN. That is down to extensive diplomacy and making the robust case that the aggressor here is Russia.”
Conservative peer Lord Howell of Guildford said British diplomats ought at least to be able to mobilise “the other 55 members of the Commonwealth” to ensure that they take a stronger position “than some of them have” against the “Russian attack on humanity”.
To which Lord Ahmad responded: “The engagement and unity being shown on the diplomatic front is being coordinated extensively with key partners; we will continue to make the case to other allies as well…When we achieved 140 and 141 votes at the UN, we were told that we had reached the pinnacle of international collaboration. Many thought that it could not be reached again, but we did; we reached 143… What should be very clear to Mr Putin when he looks across the international stage and sees who supports him and who voted with Russia — Nicaragua, Belarus, and I believe that North Korea has supported Russia on occasions — is that a person is judged by their friends; Mr Putin does not have many friends left.”


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