Indian PM Modi offers Ukraine war warning as he visits Germany

Narendra Modi says no party can win conflict in talks with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is visiting Germany, France and Denmark for talks amid the continuing conflict in Ukraine.

After meeting German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Berlin on the first leg of his three-day trip, Mr Modi urged dialogue to resolve the conflict because “no party can emerge victorious in this war”.

He expressed concern that food shortages linked to the war between Russia and Ukraine, two of the world's top wheat producers, would affect poor and developing countries most heavily.

“Everyone will suffer losses and that is why we are for peace,” he said.

The two leaders signed a set of agreements to deepen India's ties with Germany including the establishment of an encrypted hotline between the two foreign offices, a plan to combat deforestation and the creation of a joint task force on green hydrogen.

India will also be invited to attend the G7 summit that Germany is hosting in June, meaning Mr Modi could return to the country as soon as next month.

Mr Scholz's spokesman Steffen Hebestreit would not be drawn on suggestions that Germany, which is committing €10 billion ($10.6bn) to the package of bilateral agreements, was trying to entice India into a more western-friendly position on Ukraine.

But he said it was “clear that we have different positions in how we assess the war in Ukraine” and that these would be discussed by the two leaders.

Mr Modi, whose government has walked a fine line by urging an end to hostilities without directly condemning Russia, said his visit was meant to “strengthen the spirit of co-operation with our European partners, who are important companions in India’s quest for peace and prosperity”.

Mr Modi on Monday co-chaired the sixth India-Germany Inter-Governmental Consultations, a regular dialogue format of ministers from both sides.

The agreements signed between the governments included a plan to work together on producing green hydrogen, as the fuel is known when it is generated from renewable sources, which will bring together officials, industry figures and research institutes from the two countries.

Germany will support the protection and restoration of forests in India, which hopes to reinstate 26 million hectares of woodland by the end of the decade.

Described by Mr Scholz as a key country for tackling climate change, India has set 2070 as its target date for net zero carbon emissions and angered some countries at last year's Cop26 summit by pushing through a last-minute amendment that weakened the eventual agreement on coal power.

Mr Modi also discussed easing immigration rules for skilled workers from India to tackle labour shortages in Europe’s largest economy.

He will visit Copenhagen on May 3 and May 4 and hold bilateral engagements with his Danish counterpart Mette Frederiksen. Mr Modi will also participate in the second India-Nordic Summit, along with the prime ministers of Denmark, Iceland, Finland, Sweden and Norway.

Meeting with Macron

The summit will focus on subjects including post-pandemic economic recovery; climate change; innovation and technology; renewable energy; the evolving global security scenario; and India-Nordic co-operation in the Arctic region, Mr Modi said.

On his return journey, Mr Modi will stop briefly in Paris to meet French President Emmanuel Macron, who was re-elected to a second term last month and is likely to set a more ambitious agenda of the Strategic Partnership.

Mr Modi’s visit to the European nations comes at a time when New Delhi has irked its European and western allies with its neutral stance on the Russian invasion.

The South Asian nation has been pressing for “diplomacy and dialogue” to resolve the crisis, while repeatedly abstaining from the EU-backed resolutions that censured Russia at the UN.

Updated: May 03, 2022, 8:59 AM