US promises to continue engaging with India after Modi’s visit to Moscow

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Washington has said it will continue to press India to support its efforts for a “just peace” in Ukraine

Washington has been in contact with New Delhi to express concern over its ties with Russia following a bilateral meeting between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow this week.

US Department of State spokesperson Matt Miller said on Tuesday that Washington had been “quite clear about our concerns about India’s relationship with Russia.”

“We have expressed those privately, directly to the Indian government and continue to do so,” he stated. He made similar remarks the day before following informal talks between the Indian and Russian leaders at Putin’s official residence in Novo-Ogaryovo.

Miller also said the US would continue to urge India to support efforts for an “enduring and just peace in Ukraine,” as he fielded a question on whether the “hugging chemistry” between Modi and Putin would have an impact on US ties with India.

Modi was greeted with a hug from the Russian President as he welcomed him to his residence for dinner on Monday. The meeting triggered an outcry in Kiev and Washington, with Ukraine’s Vladimir Zelensky describing it as a “huge disappointment” and a “devastating blow to peace efforts.”

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Putin thanks Modi for attempts to resolve Ukraine crisis

The bilateral summit in Moscow coincided with Washington hosting Zelensky at the 75th anniversary of the NATO alliance. On Tuesday, US President Joe Biden announced the supply of a new air-defense system to Kiev and called for “unity” against Russia.

The Pentagon has also weighed in on Modi’s visit to Russia. “I do not think anybody will be surprised if President Putin tries to represent this visit in a way that seeks to somehow show that he is not isolated from the rest of the world,” spokesperson Patrick S. Ryder said.

The comment came days after Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban visited Moscow to discuss prospects for a peaceful settlement in Ukraine. Recently, Hungary took over the rotating presidency of the European Council.

Meanwhile, Putin has praised Modi for insisting on the need for peaceful resolution to the Ukraine conflict. Speaking with the Indian leader in the Kremlin on Tuesday following closed informal discussions the day before, the Russian president thanked Modi for “the attention” he was paying “to the most pressing problems, including trying to find some ways to resolve the Ukrainian crisis, of course, primarily by peaceful means.”

Modi had previously said that “whether it is war, conflict or a terrorist attack, any person who believes in humanity is pained when there is loss of lives,” and that “when innocent children are killed, the heart bleeds and that pain is very terrifying.”

READ MORE: India’s Modi visits Russia: As it happened

During his visit to Moscow, the Indian prime minister also said “there is no peace on the battlefield,” adding that solutions to the war “can only be found through dialogue.”

India has been under constant pressure from its Western partners, particularly the US, to distance itself from Russia. Instead, New Delhi has continued to maintain a close diplomatic relationship with Moscow and has considerably expanded economic cooperation. Ahead of the bilateral summit, Moscow claimed that the West was “jealously” monitoring Modi’s visit to Russia.

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