‘We are not neutral. We are on the side of peace’: India PM Modi to WSJ ahead of US visit

PM emplanes for the USA visit from New Delhi on June 20, 2023.Image credit: PIB

New Delhi/IBNS: Ahead of leaving for the US in his first historic state visit on Tuesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi in an interview to the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) in the context of Russia-Ukraine war said India’s top priority is peace and it is on the side of peace instead of being neutral.

Modi said India’s position is clear to the world on the ongoing conflict. “I think India’s position is well known and well understood in the entire world. The world has full confidence that India’s top-most priority is peace,” he said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address a joint session of the US Congress during his visit.

“Some people say that we are neutral. But we are not neutral. We are on the side of peace,” Modi told WSJ.

“All countries should respect international law and the sovereignty of countries,” he said, adding that “disputes should be resolved with diplomacy and dialogue, not war”.

On the question that India is not taking a firm stand against Russia (its old friend and ally) and facing criticism from powers like the US for continuing trade with them, Modi said: “I don’t think this type of perception is widespread in the US.”

Modi also stressed on the need for changes in global bodies like the United Nations to equip them for an increasingly “multipolar world order”, and make them representative of the world’s less-affluent countries.

On the India-US relations he said, “We do not see India as supplanting any country. We see this process as India gaining its rightful position in the world.” He said “there is an unprecedented trust” between the leaders of the two countries now.

He referred to the growing defence cooperation between India and the US as “an important pillar” of the ties besides in sectors like trade, technology and energy.

On the India-China relations under the shadow of border conflicts, he said “We have a core belief in respecting sovereignty and territorial integrity, observing the rule of law and peaceful resolution of differences and disputes. At the same time, India is also fully prepared and committed to protecting its sovereignty and dignity.”

“All countries should respect international law and the sovereignty of countries. Disputes should be resolved with diplomacy and dialogue, not war,” he added.

Asked about religious tolerance in India, Modi said India not only “tolerates” but rather “celebrates” its diversity.

“For thousands of years, India has been the land where people of all faiths and beliefs have found the freedom to coexist peacefully and prosper. You will find people of every faith in the world living in harmony in India,” he said. 

Indian PM Narendra Modi on Tuesday left for a five-day visit to the United States and Egypt from Delhi.

Before leaving the nation, Modi said he is confident that the trip to the US will reinforce ties based on shared values of democracy, diversity and freedom.

He is going on a State Visit to the USA at the invitation of President Joseph Biden and First Lady Dr. Jill Biden.

He said: “I will commence my visit in New York, where I will celebrate the International Day of Yoga on June 21 at the United Nations Headquarters with the UN leadership and members of the international community. I look forward to this special celebration at the very location that supported India’s proposal in December 2014 to recognize an International Day of Yoga.”

Modi said: “India-US ties are multifaceted, with deepening engagements across sectors. USA is India’s largest trade partner in goods and services.”