Modi, Morrison agree Russia-Ukraine conflict should not divert attention from Indo-Pacific

The two leaders shared their concern over the military offensive in Ukraine and the humanitarian situation in the war-torn nation.

Ashok Tuteja

Ashok Tuteja

The Statesman


Photo: ANI

March 22, 2022

NEW DELHI – Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Australian counterpart Scott Morrison today emphasised that the Russia-Ukraine conflict should not be a reason for diverting attention from the Indo-Pacific even as the Australian leader expressed his understanding of India’s position on the crisis in Europe.

At their second virtual summit, Morrison stressed the pressing need to ensure that the events of Europe did not occur in the Indo Pacific while Modi made it clear that peace and tranquility along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China was a prerequisite for normalisation of Delhi-Beijing ties.

Briefing reporters on the deliberations at the summit, Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla said both leaders exchanged views on a range of bilateral issues as well as global developments. China and the conflict in Ukraine figured prominently during the discussions.

Modi referred to the LAC in Ladakh where the troops of India and China have been locked in a tense stand-off for almost two years now and the incidents there over the previous year. PM Morrison also gave a fairly detailed perspective of how he saw China and its actions in the region, according to the foreign secretary.

The two leaders shared their concern over the military offensive in Ukraine and the humanitarian situation in the war-torn nation. It was emphasised that the rule of law and the respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity of all nations must prevail.

”Our meeting today is set against the very distressing backdrop of the war in Europe, which must never happen in our own region, and I very much want to thank you for the partnership that we have,” Morrison said in his statement at the summit.

He observed that while both India and Australia were distressed at the terrible situation in Europe, their focus was always very much on what was occurring in the Indo-Pacific and ensuring that those events could never occur in this region.

”Our region is facing increasing change and much pressure, and I think our Quad Leaders’ call recently, which gave us the opportunity to discuss Russia’s unlawful invasion of Ukraine, but it also gave us the opportunity to discuss the implications and consequences of that terrible event for our own region in the Indo-Pacific and the coercion and the issues that we face here,” Morrison said.

The Australian PM was of the view that the tragic loss of life underlined the importance, of holding Russia to account. ”But cooperation between like-minded liberal democracies is key to an open and inclusive and resilient and prosperous Indo-Pacific, and I welcome your leadership within the Quad to keeping us focused on those important issues,” he told Modi.

In his statement, Modi welcomed the announcement of the establishment of a Centre of Excellence for Critical and Emerging Technologies in Bangalore. ”It is essential that we have better cooperation between us in the areas of cyber and critical and emerging technologies. As countries that share similar values, it is our responsibility to adopt appropriate global standards for these emerging technologies,” he said.

The Indian leaders noted that the two countries have made significant progress in their endeavour to conclude a Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) in a very short time.

”There is also good cooperation between us in the Quad framework. Our cooperation under the Quad demonstrates our commitment towards a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific. The success of Quad is essential for regional and global stability,” Modi added. He also thanked Morrison for the initiative to return ancient Indian artefacts.

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