Quad has accepted India’s Russia stand, won’t hit ties: Australian high commissioner

 NEW DELHI: While Australian PM Scott Morrison has said he will raise with his counterpart Narendra Modi Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, an issue that dominated Japan’s agenda with India in the summit on Saturday, Australia

seems to have taken a more understanding view of India’s “balanced” position which apparently allows it to reach out to both sides to foster dialogue and diplomacy.

Ahead of the virtual summit on Monday, Australian high commissioner Barry O’Farrell said Quad countries have accepted India’s position and that it wasn’t going to affect cooperation among them.

Australia is expected to announce investments worth Rs 1,500 crore during the summit on Monday, described by a diplomatic source as largest ever by Australia in India, in areas like space, clean technology and also in critical minerals where Australia is looking to challenge China’s control of the international market. The two countries are also expected to sign an early harvest or interim trade agreement by the end of this month.

Australian High Commissioner to India Barry O'Farrell said each country has a bilateral relationship and it is clear from the comments of the MEA and PM Modi that he has used his contacts to call for the end of the conflict and “no country will be unhappy with that”.

Quad nations had accepted India's position on the Ukraine-Russia war and Prime Minister Narendra Modi was clearly using his office to call for an end to the conflict, said Australian High Commissioner to India Barry O'Farrell on Sunday.

The envoy’s comments came a day ahead of a virtual summit between Modi and his Australian counterpart Scott Morrison during which they are likely to discuss the crisis in Ukraine following Russia’s invasion of its east European nation nearly four weeks ago.

India has so far maintained a neutral stand on the conflict and has even abstained from resolutions passed in the United Nations condemning Russia’s military onslaught on its pro-West neighbour, even as it consistently appealed for a return to dialogue. According to reports, India is also considering buying Russian oil at a discounted price.

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When the Australian envoy was asked about increasing disquiet in the West over India's position on the issue, O'Farrell said, "The Quad countries have accepted India's position. We understand that each country has a bilateral relationship and it is clear from the comments of the MEA (ministry of external affairs) and Prime Minister Modi himself that he has used his contacts to call for the end of the conflict and no country will be unhappy with that."

The Quad comprises India, Japan, Australia and the United States. Except India, the three other Quad member countries have been severely critical of Russia for its military aggression against Ukraine.

On Saturday, after the summit talks with Modi, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said the Russian invasion of Ukraine has "shaken" the roots of international order, adding attempts to alter the status quo by using force in any region should never be tolerated.

Earlier, White House press secretary Jen said India taking the Russian offer of discounted crude oil would not be a violation of the US sanctions on Moscow but underlined that countries should also think about "where you want to stand" on the issue.

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