India needs to stop seeking world's approval, foreign minister says

'Best way' to move forward in Russia-Ukraine conflict is 'to focus on stopping the fighting', Subrahmanyam Jaishankar said

India's External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar. AP
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Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar on Wednesday said the South Asian nation needs to stop seeking approval from other nations on its relations with the world.

“We have to be confident about who we are,” Mr Jaishankar said. “I think it is better to engage the world on the basis of who we are.

“This idea that others define us, somehow we need to get the approval of other quarters — I think that is an era we need to put behind us,”

Mr Jaishankar made his remarks during the concluding day of the Raisina Dialogue, India’s biggest foreign policy event, which began on Monday in the capital New Delhi and largely focused on political developments in Europe and the Asia-Pacific region.

His comments came a day after he called the Russian invasion as a “wake up” call for the West.

India has pursued an independent policy towards Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, despite pressure from western allies to join the anti-Russia camp.

New Delhi has refused to explicitly condemn Russia, its long-time ally and largest weapons supplier.

It has maintained that the crisis in Eastern Europe can be resolved through dialogue and urged both Russia and Ukraine to end the violence.

“The best way forward is to focus on stopping the fighting, getting the talking and finding ways of moving forward,” Mr Jaishankar said, restating India's stance on the Ukraine crisis. “We think our policy, our choices are best placed to advance that.”

The multilateral conference, partly sponsored by India’s External Affairs Ministry and Delhi-based think tank the Observer Research Foundation, attracted an array of leaders, including former prime ministers and diplomats from Europe, the US, Africa and Asia.

More than 200 delegates from about 90 countries attended the event and attended talks on democracy, multilateralism, health, technology, conflict, renewable energy and the Asia-Pacific region.

Many discussions focused in particular on efforts to strengthen economic, strategic and commercial ties between India and the EU, with European Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen attending as the guest of honour.

The seventh annual conclave was titled “Terra Nova: Impassioned, Impatient and Imperilled” and was the first to take place in person since the pandemic began.

Updated: April 27, 2022, 4:35 PM