US President Joe Biden, alongside US Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin (left) and India's Minister of Defence Rajnath Singh (3rd left), takes part in a virtual meeting with India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the South Court Auditorium of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, next to the White House, in Washington, DC, on April 11, 2022. Image Credit: AFP

Washington/New Delhi: US President Joe Biden struck an upbeat tone in a virtual meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi amid rising tensions over Russia’s attacks on Ukraine, saying the two nations will keep working together to counter the fallout from the Kremlin’s war.

“The United States and India are going to continue our close consultation on how to manage the destabilising effects of this Russian war,” Biden told Modi in their video conference on Monday. He said “consultation and dialogue are key to ensuring the US-India relationship continues to grow deeper and stronger, delivering our people and our global good that we all are seeking.”

Biden lauded India’s efforts to provide humanitarian assistance to Ukraine.

“The root of our partnership is a deep connection between our people, ties of family and friendship” and a shared value system, Biden said in his first discussion with Modi since Russia launched attacks on Ukraine.

Viewing each other from video screens, Biden and Modi both expressed growing alarm at the destruction inside Ukraine, particularly in Bucha, where many civilians have been killed.

Modi, via translator, said he had been appealing for peace and called the killings in the Ukrainian city of Bucha “very worrying.”

“I am confident that our friendship with America will be an integral part of India’s development journey over the next 25 years,” Modi told Biden.

Biden discussed issues regarding Ukraine, including India’s energy purchases from Russia, with Modi but did not make a “concrete ask,” a senior US administration official said.

India will make its own decisions, but the United States believes India should not accelerate energy purchases from Russia after its invasion of Ukraine and the ensuing war, the official said. The two leaders had an hour-long, productive and candid conversation, the official said.

India has historically attempted a neutral stance on tensions between major powers, even as it has joined groups such as Quad security alliance with Australia, Japan and the US.

The White House last month dispatched Deputy National Security Adviser Daleep Singh to New Dehli to clearly convey what the repercussions of violating sanctions would be and to make clear that the US doesn’t think India should increase its imports of Russian energy and other commodities, Press Secretary Jen Psaki said last week. Psaki noted that the decision to buy Russian energy was up to individual countries but said the US would support India in any efforts to diversify its imports.

The virtual meeting between Biden and Modi will be followed by face-to-face meetings on Monday in Washington of both countries’ foreign and defence ministers.