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Biden urges Modi not to step up India’s use of Russian oil

President Joe Biden on Monday told India’s Narendra Modi not to speed up the purchase of Russian oil as the United States and other countries try to cut off Moscow’s energy revenues after the invasion of Ukraine . India’s prime minister has made no public commitment to abstain from Russian oil, a source of tension with the United States

Reunited by video call, Biden told Modi that the United States could help India diversify its energy sources, according to press secretary Jen Psaki. Even though India gets little of its oil from Russia, it has stepped up recently with a major purchase as other democracies try to isolate Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“The president has also made it clear that he does not believe it is in India’s interest to accelerate or increase imports of Russian energy or other commodities,” Psaki said. .

While the two nations ended the meeting with Biden saying they were committed to strengthening their relationship, White House officials could not say whether India was on their side to fully condemn Putin. , saying the choice ultimately rests with Modi’s government. The two leaders will meet in person May 24 in Tokyo for a summit of the Quad, a coalition that also includes Australia and Japan.

India’s neutral stance in the war has raised concerns in Washington and won praise from Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who praised India this month for judging “the entire situation, not just unilaterally”.

Biden opened the video chat by emphasizing the defense partnership between the two countries and saying that the United States and India will “continue our close consultations on how to deal with the destabilizing effects of this Russian war. “on food and other commodities.

“The root of our partnership is a deep bond between our peoples, ties of family, friendship and shared values,” the US president said.

Modi on Monday called the situation in Ukraine “very worrying”, and he noted that an Indian student had lost his life during the war. He said he spoke with Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, calling on them both for peace. India has condemned the killings uncovered in the town of Bucha and called for an independent investigation.

A senior US official described the Biden-Modi exchange as warm and productive, although the official stressed that India will make its own decisions on how to respond to Putin. The manager insisted on anonymity to discuss the meeting.

Biden and Modi discussed how to manage the risks of global instability over food, humanitarian aid and climate change, and Modi candidly shared his views on some of Russia’s close ties with China which raise concerns, the official said.

Also on Monday, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin met in person with Indian Defense Minister Rajnath Singh, and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Indian External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar.

Austin called on India to act with other democracies, a form of government based on the popular consent of the people that contrasts with autocracies such as China and Russia.

“Now more than ever, democracies must come together to uphold the values ​​we all share,” Austin said.

India has refrained from some efforts to hold Russia accountable for its invasion. India abstained when the United Nations General Assembly voted on Thursday to suspend Russia from its seat on the 47-member Human Rights Council over allegations that Russian soldiers in Ukraine allegedly committed rights violations that the United States and Ukraine have described as war crimes.

The vote was 93 to 24 with 58 abstentions.

India continues to buy Russian energy, despite pressure from Western countries to avoid buying Russian oil and gas. The United States has also considered sanctions against India for its recent purchase of advanced Russian air defense systems.

Last month, state-owned Indian Oil Corp. bought 3 million barrels of crude from Russia to meet its needs, resisting pleas from the West to avoid such purchases. India is not alone in buying Russian energy, however. Several European allies such as Germany continued to do so, despite public pressure to end these contracts.

Indian media reported that Russia was offering a discount on oil purchases 20% below global benchmark prices.

Iraq is India’s leading supplier, with a 27% share. Saudi Arabia is second with around 17%, followed by the United Arab Emirates with 13% and the United States with 9%, the Press Trust of India news agency reported.

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