London/Berlin: Germany is debating whether to invite Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the Group of Seven summit it’s hosting in June, given India’s reluctance to condemn Russia for invading Ukraine, according to people familiar with the matter.
Germany is set to include Senegal, South Africa and Indonesia as guests at the meeting in Bavaria, but India remains under consideration, the people said, asking not to be identified discussing confidential matters. One of the people said India had been on a list drawn up before the war in Ukraine started, and a final decision hadn’t been taken.
India was among the more than 50 countries that abstained from a United Nations vote to suspend Russia from the UN Human Rights Council, and has not imposed sanctions on Moscow. It is a significant buyer of Russian weapons, which it says it needs to deter its neighbors China and Pakistan.
Government spokesman Steffen Hebestreit said Berlin would present its list of guest attendees as soon as it is finalized.
“The chancellor has repeatedly made clear that he would like to see as many international partners as possible joining the sanctions,” Hebestreit said. A foreign ministry spokesperson declined to comment.
Germany itself has come under criticism from governments including Ukraine and Poland for its continuing reliance on Russian energy imports. Berlin has made moves to curtail that dependence, though the nation’s companies rely heavily on Russian natural gas to power their factories.
G-7 nations have taken the lead in pursuing sanctions against Russia and some have sent weapons to Ukraine. They’ve sought to engage other countries to condemn President Vladimir Putin and to put limits on trade and investment with Russia, including on energy. But many governments in Latin America, Africa, Asia and the Middle East remain reluctant to do so.
One of the people pointed to data suggesting an increase in Russian oil deliveries to India since the late February invasion. This had not gone unnoticed in the chancellery, the person added.
India has said it will continue to buy Russian oil and Russia has been offering deliveries at a significantly discounted rate, Bloomberg previously reported. The government in New Delhi also plans to boost exports to Russia by an additional $2 billion as the two nations work out a payment system in local currencies to continue trade, according to people with knowledge of the matter.
German government officials have been in contact with their Indian counterparts since the start of the war, according to one official who asked not to be identified talking about private conversations. The foreign ministers from the two countries spoke by phone in late February.
U.S. President Joe Biden spoke with Modi on Monday via video call, where he said the U.S. stands ready to help India diversify its energy imports.
“The president has made clear that he does not believe it’s in India’s interest to accelerate or increase imports of Russian energy and other commodities,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters afterward.
G-7 countries have also been discussing options to handle Putin should he show up for a Group of 20 summit in Indonesia later in the year. They would insist on any G-20 statement firmly condemning Russia, while at the same time wanting to avoid creating north-south divides within the bloc. –Bloomberg
Also read: G7 finance chiefs to meet on G20 sidelines in Washington on April 20: reports
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