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Jaishankar, Blinken discuss Ukraine war, Indo-Pacific situation

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar met United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Phnom Penh on Sunday and discussed bilateral ties, the raging Ukraine conflict, energy issues, G20 and the situation in the Indo-Pacific, days ahead of a possible meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Joe Biden.

The meeting between the top diplomats of the two countries took place on the sidelines of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)-India Summit in the Cambodian capital.

Jaishankar is accompanying Vice President Jagdeep Dhankhar, who is leading the Indian delegation to the ASEAN-India Commemorative Summit and the 17th East Asia Summit in Phnom Penh.

Jaishankar and Blinken met days ahead of a likely bilateral between Prime Minister Modi and President Biden on the margins of the G-20 Summit in Bali, Indonesia from November 15-16.

‘A good meeting with US Secretary of State @SecBlinken. Discussed Ukraine, Indo-Pacific, energy, G20 and bilateral relations,’ Jaishankar said in a tweet, indicating the topics he discussed with Blinken.

‘I met Indian External Affairs Minister @DrSJaishankar on the margins of the @ASEAN summit today in Phnom Penh to discuss ongoing efforts to expand our partnership & mitigate the effects of Russia’s war on Ukraine. The U.S. supports India’s #G20 Presidency,’ Blinken tweeted.

Jaishankar’s meeting with Blinken took place after his meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Moscow on Tuesday and talks with Ukraine foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba on Saturday in Phnom Penh.

US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan has said that President Biden and Prime Minister Modi have a productive and very practical relationship.

Sullivan said that President Biden was looking forward to seeing Prime Minister Modi on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Bali.

“I would point out Prime Minister Modi has already been to the White House since President Biden took office, and the two of them have had the opportunity to meet in person multiple times and to talk by phone and on video multiple times,” he told reporters at the White House on Thursday.

He said the two leaders see common interests on a number of critical issues and have really worked together to strengthen the US-India partnership.

“When you add all that up, it is a productive, very practical relationship,” Sullivan said.

“President Biden is looking forward to seeing Prime Minister Modi at the G20 this year, as we look ahead to the next year,” he said.

India will hold the presidency of the G20 next year and there is a possibility of a US presidential visit to the country.

India has not yet condemned the Russian invasion of Ukraine and it has been maintaining that the crisis must be resolved through diplomacy and dialogue.

Since the Ukraine conflict began in February, Prime Minister Modi spoke to Russian President Vladimir Putin as well as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy a number of times.

In a phone conversation with Zelenskyy on October 4, Modi said that there can be ‘no military solution’ and that India is ready to contribute to any peace efforts.

At a bilateral meeting with Putin in the Uzbek city of Samarkand on September 16, Modi told him that ‘today’s era is not of war’.

In the last few months, India has increased the import of discounted crude oil from Russia notwithstanding increasing disquiet over it by several Western powers.

In Phnom Penh, Jaishankar met UN chief Antonio Guterres at the end of the ASEAN gala dinner on Saturday.

Jaishankar held also talks with his counterpart from Thailand Don Pramudwinai.

‘Always nice to catch up with DPM & FM Don Pramudwinai of Thailand. Discussed our shared regional concerns and the strengthening partnership with ASEAN,’ he tweeted.

‘Met Canadian colleagues Trade Minister @mary_ng and FM @melaniejoly at the ASEAN gala dinner. All for greater trade and strategic convergence, while countering terrorism and opposing radicalisation,’ he said in another tweet.

Jaishankar on Saturday discussed a range of issues with his counterparts from Canada, Indonesia and Singapore.

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