Italy, India discuss Ukraine, energy partnership and G-20 cooperation

Unlike other European counterparts France, Germany and Nordic countries, Italian FM did not insert line condemning Russia’s actions

May 06, 2022 08:20 pm | Updated 08:20 pm IST - NEW DELHI

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar with his Italian counterpart Luigi Di Maio, during a meeting in Delhi.

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar with his Italian counterpart Luigi Di Maio, during a meeting in Delhi. | Photo Credit: PTI

The Government of India continued its push for better ties with Europe, as External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar met Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio in Delhi on Friday. Chief on the agenda, as has been the case during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s tour to Germany, France, as well as to Denmark for the Nordic Summit, was the Ukraine issue, climate change cooperation, and space cooperation between the two countries.

“On Ukraine, the two Ministers expressed their concern on the ongoing humanitarian crisis and called for an immediate cessation of hostilities. They also underlined the importance to safeguard the international order based on the UN Charter, with special regard to the respect of sovereignty and territorial integrity,” a joint statement issued by India and Italy after the meeting said. Significantly, the Italian Minister made no criticism of Russia in the statement, the first of Italy’s European counterparts this week not to insert a line “condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine”.

The Ministers discussed implementing the “India-Italy Strategic Partnership on Energy Transition” announced last year during the Prime Minister’s visit to Italy for the G-20 meeting, and also discussed cooperating at multilateral organisations, including the G-20.

Invitation to Putin

Italy had agreed to hold the G-20 meeting in India’s place, as New Delhi had wanted more time in order to prepare its hosting of the event in 2023. Ahead of the upcoming G-20 this year in Indonesia, which also exchanged places with India, members of the grouping are sharply divided over inviting President Vladimir Putin. While the U.S. and EU countries had walked out of a G-20 meeting of finance officials at the World Bank last month, India, China, Indonesia and a few other countries did not. Indonesian President Joko Widodo has confirmed that President Putin will attend the summit in November, and he also extended an invitation to Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelensky to attend.

“[They] agreed to explore partnerships in areas such as gas transportation, green hydrogen, bio fuels and energy storage. In addition, they agreed to jointly organise an India - Italy Tech Summit on Energy Transition and Circular Economy, to be held in Delhi on 17 November 2022,” the statement said about the energy partnership.

Cooperation on Indo-Pacific

The two sides also discussed cooperation on the Indo-Pacific in talks. Mr. Di Maio’s visit to India followed a visit to Italy this week by Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida. Last week, Mr. Kishida hosted German Chancellor Olaf Scholz just before Mr. Modi’s visit to Berlin, and next week European Council President Ursula Von Der Leyen, who met Mr. Modi last month in Delhi, will travel to Tokyo, all sparking speculation about trilateral cooperation between India, Japan and Europe on the Indo-Pacific. In addition Mr. Modi is expected to travel to Tokyo on May 23-24 to attend the Quad summit along with the U.S. President and the Australian Prime Minister.

Mr. Di Maio, who was in Delhi from May 4-6 on his first official visit, also visited Karnataka to inaugurate the new Consulate-General premises, and met Commerce and Industries Minister Piyush Goyal for a business roundtable.

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