Speaking at a United Nations Security Council (UNSC) meeting on cooperation between the United Nations and the League of Arab States (LAS), Foreign Secretary Harsh Shringla said India and the Arab world share a “civilisational relationship”, as he welcomed the normalisation of relations between countries in the region and reiterated India’s support for a two–state (i.e., Palestine and Israel) solution.
Officials said the Foreign Secretary’s visit to the United Nations to attend the meeting was an indicator of the close relations India shares with the United Arab Emirates, given that the session about the U.N. cooperation with the League of Arab Nations is a “signature event” of the UAE ‘s presidency this month at the Security Council.
However, Mr. Shringla’s visit to New York amidst the ongoing war in Ukraine has fuelled speculation that he would also take part in the discussions at the United Nations about the way forward in the crisis.
At the UNSC meeting on the LAS, Mr. Shringla called for greater policy alignment between the U.N. and the LAS, fostered by regular and frequent consultations. He also suggested comprehensive coordination at the field level and emphasised post–conflict peace building via reconstruction and economic development. Mr. Shringla suggested that all efforts ensure regional stability with a special focus on the welfare of women and minorities.
“Both organisations must take concerted efforts to support the reactivation of the Middle East [West Asia] peace process in line with a two–state solution based on the internationally agreed framework and previous agreements between the parties,” Mr. Shringla said. “India welcomes the agreement for normalisation of relations between countries in the region, which we believe will contribute to greater peace and stability in the region.”
The UAE, along with several other Arab countries, began normalising its relations with Israel, particularly with the signing of the Abraham Accords — a trilateral agreement among the U.S., the UAE and Israel, signed in 2020, during the administration of (former) U.S. President Donald Trump.
Even as the UNSC meeting was under way on Wednesday, a parallel session of the UNGA (a resumption of the Emergency Special Session from earlier in March) began. Ukraine introduced a draft resolution, proposed by France and Mexico, “Human Consequences of the Aggression Against Ukraine”, which holds Russia responsible for the crisis in Ukraine. Another draft UNGA resolution, sponsored by South Africa, a BRICS member–country, calls for “an immediate cessation of hostilities by all parties in the conflict”, without naming Russia.
New Delhi has received a large number of foreign leaders and delegations over the past week, and more are expected to follow, mostly from countries that are part of the sanctions regime against Russia, seeking to shift India’s position on the Russia–Ukraine issue. The Modi government has refused to support any resolution at the U.N. bodies that criticises Russia, and has suggested that it is considering a Russian offer of more oil at discounted prices.
Diplomatic sources confirmed that the surge in the number of visitors to Delhi by European and U.S. allies was mainly aimed at trying to ensure that the Modi government shifts its position on the Ukraine issue. NATO and the E.U. countries hope that New Delhi will consider voting in favour of at least one or both of the resolutions on the humanitarian situation before the UNGA.
“A vote in favour of one of the resolutions would be a sign that New Delhi is willing to shift its position,” said a diplomat, speaking on the condition of anonymity, adding that if India remains committed to the U.N. charter, territorial sovereignty principles and a need for a stop to the violence, it must also hold Russia to account for “being the aggressor”.
A third resolution, sponsored by Russia, is in the works at the UNSC and faces widespread opposition for not referring to its invasion of Ukraine.