Auckland [New Zealand]: On his first visit to New Zealand, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar termed the Russia-Ukraine conflict as still hot and recalled that India was requested to press the Russians on the issue regarding the safety of Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant when the countries increased their fighting near the nuclear facility.
Addressing the Auckland business community here, Jaishankar said, “When I was in the United Nations, the big concern at that time was the safety of the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant because there was some fighting going on very proximate to it.” “There was a request to us to press the Russians on that issue which we did. There have been other concerns at various points of time, either different countries have raised with us or the UN has raised with us. I think at this time whatever we can do, we will be willing to do,” the EAM added.
Jaishankar said India may have had an impact on the UN-mediated grain deal that was worked out between Ukraine and Russia in August.
“Some months ago, when there was this initiative to get the grain out through the Black Sea. The UN, which was leading the effort, were interested in our weighing in with the Russians. I have my own reasons to think, to know that somewhere, that our speaking to them had some impact and it did come back to us”, he added.
Terming the conflict “still hot”, the external affairs minister said that he doesn’t see countries that would disregard India’s position and people would view it from their point of immediate interest, their historical experiences, and their insecurities.
“At this point of time, conflict is still hot, passions are still high. It’s not easy for people to readily listen to voices of reason. But I can say with objectivity, that if we take our position, if we voice our views, I don’t think countries would disregard that. This was also reflected in a meeting of PM Modi and President Putin,” the minister said.
Explaining India’s position on the war in Ukraine, Jaishankar said it is natural that different countries, different regions would react a little differently.
“People would view it from their point of immediate interest, their historical experiences, their insecurities. To me, the diversity of the world would also naturally lead to a different response and I would not disrespect the position of other countries because I see many of them coming at it from their perception, their anxieties or their equities in Ukraine. As a foreign minister, I have to ask myself this question. In this situation what is it that India can do which obviously would be in the Indian interest but which is also in the best interest of the world. So, I think at this time the sensible thing to do is to temper down and address the specific parts of the complex situation,” he said.
On Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered his government to take control of Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant, Europe’s largest, as the UN nuclear watchdog warned that the power supply to the site was “extremely fragile”.
The plant is located in the southern Ukrainian region also called Zaporizhzhya, one of four regions that President Vladimir Putin formally incorporated into Russia on Wednesday in a move condemned by Kyiv as an illegal land grab.
Further, stressing upon the fact that countries should come back to the conference table and that anybody who would facilitate this settlement will do a service. “I eventually think that this conflict will require countries to come back to the conference table. It’s not a conflict which is likely to be settled. So if they are going to come back one day it is in our collective interest that day is soon rather than dead and anybody who can facilitate that, encourage that, smoothen that, I think it is doing a service,” he said.
Further, talking about the climate change and pandemic, minister Jaishankar hailed India’s assistance it provided to the world by supplying medicines.
“There are a lot of countries who are looking at the near term future and deeply worrying about their ability to get fuel, food or fertiliser. It is a difficult moment. And when times are difficult, it is equally important that those who have some capability to be a part of the solution, come forward, and do what they can. During the Covid, we were one of the biggest manufacturers of vaccines. We still are. And even while we were vaccinating our own people. We took a very conscious decision to help others and we prioritised countries who don’t had access to the free vaccines”, said the minister.
Earlier, Jaishankar held talks with his New Zealand counterpart Nanaia Mahuta and took up visa issues being faced by Indian students due to Covid-19 measures imposed by the country.
During the discussion with minister Mahuta, Jaishankar requested expeditious visa processing of Indian students who desire to study in New Zealand.
“Took up the issue of Indian students impacted by Covid measures. Urged expeditious visa processing of those desirous of studying in New Zealand now,” the minister tweeted.
Jaishankar said if India and New Zealand play to their strengths, including business, education, and agriculture, both the countries can cooperate on pressing global issues including climate action, pandemics and maritime security.
In Auckland, EAM will participate in an event on October 6 along with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to felicitate members of the Indian community in New Zealand for their exceptional achievements and contributions.
After wrapping up his New Zealand visit, the EAM will be visiting Canberra and Sydney.