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Amid US’ criticism of India over Russia talks, Blinken speaks to EAM

US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, speaking to reporters, termed reports of the rupee-ruble arrangement with Russia as “deeply disappointing”, though she said she hadn't seen the details.

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Washington/New Delhi: Amid US’ criticism of India for not backing the West’s sanctions over Russia, and the India visit of Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in a phone call with External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar discussed the Ukraine issue.

US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, speaking to reporters, termed reports of the rupee-ruble arrangement with Russia as “deeply disappointing”, though she said she hadn’t seen the details.

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“Now is the time to stand on the right side of history, and to stand with the United States and dozens of other countries, standing up for freedom, democracy and sovereignty with the Ukrainian people, and not funding and fuelling and aiding President Putin’s war,” Raimondo told reporters in Washington on Wednesday.

Australian Trade Minister Dan Tehan, who was there at the briefing, said it was important for democracies to work together “to keep the rules-based approach that we’ve had since the second world war.”

In the backdrop of the West’s unease over India’s position vis-à-vis the Ukraine war and its purchase of Russian oil, the US Secretary of State spoke with EAM Jaishankar on Wednesday night.

According to a State Department readout of the call, Blinken spoke with Jaishankar “to review regional priorities, including the worsening humanitarian situation in Ukraine and our shared efforts to promote a free, open, secure, and prosperous Indo-Pacific, in which the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all states is respected.”

Jaishankar in a tweet said he had a useful conversation with Blinken during which they “Reviewed the progress on our bilateral cooperation.

Discussed developments pertaining to the Indo-Pacific, Ukraine and the global economy.” The talks come as US Deputy NSA Daleep Singh is in India on a two-day visit.

The Indian-American top US official is the pointsman behind designing the tough US sanctions on Russia. He met Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal yesterday. Besides bilateral relations, Deputy National Security Advisor for International Economics Daleep Singh is to “meet with Government of India officials to deepen cooperation to promote inclusive economic growth and prosperity, and a free and open Indo-Pacific.

Singh will consult closely with counterparts on the consequences of Russia’s unjustified war against Ukraine and mitigating its impact on the global economy.

“Singh will also discuss priorities of the Biden Administration, including the promotion of high-quality infrastructure through Build Back Better World and the development of an Indo-Pacific Economic Framework.

”Singh’s visit also comes ahead of the planned India-US 2+2 talks which are to be held this year. The Russian Foreign Minister comes to India to further the purchase of Russian oil by India, besides discussing other bilateral issues. 

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