Gulf countries understand India’s position on Prophet controversy: Foreign Secretary Kwatra

‘Indian purchase of Russian energy is appreciated by the world’

June 24, 2022 10:00 pm | Updated 10:01 pm IST - New Delhi

Foreign Secretary Vinay Mohan Kwatra

Foreign Secretary Vinay Mohan Kwatra | Photo Credit: The Hindu

The recent controversy over the comments on the Prophet of Islam is unlikely to cast a shadow on the upcoming visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the United Arab Emirates, said a senior official here on Friday.

Addressing a special briefing, Foreign Secretary Vinay Mohan Kwatra said that there is no need to discuss the matter anymore.

"As far as Prophet controversy is concerned, almost all Gulf countries have an understanding of India's position. We have communicated our stand on various platforms. I don't think that will be taken forward anymore," said Foreign Secretary Vinay Mohan Kwatra.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit the United Arab Emirates on June 28 while returning from Germany where he will represent India at the G7 summit during June 26-27.

Mr. Kwatra informed that Mr. Modi's visit to the UAE is aimed at conveying condolences on the passing away of President of UAE, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan. The long-term ruler passed away on May 13. The UAE had joined Qatar and other Gulf countries in condemning the remarks by Bharatiya Janata Party leaders Nupur Sharma and Navin Kumar Jindal that were found to be offensive in nature. The comments were made on TV and in social media and drew widespread outrage in the Arab and Islamic blocs. In the Gulf countries, the outrage was amplified by public opinion expressed online.

In recent months, India often took combative position when questions were raised on its human rights record or on freedom of religion but there was an element of quiet diplomacy in the way New Delhi dealt with the Prophet issue. The MEA has maintained that "adequate" action has been taken against the two leaders who have been stripped of their party responsibilities since the protest broke out in the Gulf countries.

The UAE is also important from the point of view of India's energy requirement as the country is one of the major suppliers of energy to India. India has increased purchase of Russian energy as sanctions-hit Moscow has made its energy supplies available to India at a steep discount. The war in Ukraine and the sanctions on Russia are expected to feature in the G7 summit in Germany where the Prime Minister will participate during June 26-27. The western powers have been critical of India's increasing purchase of Russian crude but Mr. Kwatra defended India's purchase of Russian energy.

"Whatever are the trading arrangements that India puts in place with regard to the purchase of crude oil all over the world, is determined purely by the consideration of energy security in India. India's consideration for crude oil purchases is very well understood and it is appreciated all across the countries," said Mr. Kwatra presenting India’s position on an issue that is expected to feature prominently at the G7 meeting.

Apart from India, Argentina, South Africa, Senegal and Indonesia have also been invited to the G7 summit, where leaders from the U.S., U.K., Germany, France, Canada, Italy and Japan are scheduled to attend.

Mr. Modi paid a visit to Germany on May 2 when he attended the 6th India-Germany Inter-Governmental Consultations.

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