US President Joe Biden on Monday told Prime Minister Narendra Modi that it was not in India’s interest to “accelerate or increase” its oil purchase from Russia and was willing to help New Delhi further diversify its energy imports, the White House said. Biden made the remarks during a virtual meeting with Prime Minister Modi, which was “constructive” and “productive” and their interaction was “not adversarial,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters.
The virtual meeting between the two leaders came in the midst of some disquiet in Washington over India’s position on the Ukraine crisis as well as its decision to procure discounted Russian oil. The Modi-Biden virtual meeting lasted for about an hour.
“This was a constructive call. It was a productive call. It is a relationship that is vitally important to the United States and to the President. I would not see it as an adversarial call,” Psaki told reporters at her daily news conference soon after the conclusion of the Modi-Biden virtual bilateral.
While the two leaders have met virtually multiple times and also in personal settings, this was for the first time that Biden and Modi had a virtual bilateral.
During the meeting, Biden said that it is not in India’s interest to accelerate or increase its oil imports from Russia. As of now, India imports between one and two per cent of its oil needs from Russia as compared to 10 per cent from the US.
The United States, Psaki said, is willing to help India further diversify its energy resources. India buying oil and gas from Russia, she insisted, is not in violation of any sanctions. “But I will let them speak for themselves,” she said.
Responding to a question, Psaki said that no decision has been taken on CAATSA sanctions on India, which is going ahead with its decision to purchase the S-400 missile system from Russia.
In October 2018, India signed a $5 billion deal with Russia to buy five units of the S-400 Triumf air defence missile systems to ramp up its air defence, despite a warning from the then Trump administration that going ahead with the contract may invite US sanctions.
The US has already imposed sanctions on Turkey under the CAATSA for the purchase of a batch of S-400 missile defence systems from Russia.
Psaki told reporters that Modi and India have spoken forcefully against Russian atrocities in Ukraine.
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There were no immediate reports of serious structural damage to buildings, but power was out in some areas of the city and people were fleeing to higher ground