'A friend cannot be weakened': Nirmala Sitharaman addresses India-US ties
Nirmala Sitharaman called for greater understanding of India's geopolitical position in the US
She explained India's stance on the Russia-Ukraine war, but reiterated that India is a 'friend' to the US
Sitharaman was in DC for IMF and World Bank meetings
Indian Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday said that bilateral ties between India and the US had moved forward and deepened in meaningful ways in the context of the ongoing war in Ukraine and New Delhi's relationship with Moscow.
Speaking to reporters in Washington DC where the Finance Minister had gone to attend the spring meetings of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, Sitharaman said, "There is an understanding that India's relationship with the United States has actually moved forward. It's gotten deeper. There is no one questioning that."
"But there is also an understanding, not just the legacy dependence for defence equipment on Russia...That India has legacy issues as much as relationships over several decades. And if anything, I can say with a bit of confidence there is a positive understanding. It is not a negative understanding," the 62-year-old added at the end of her trip to the US, where she interacted with several top officials of the Biden-Harris administration.
Sitharaman went on to say that India was a "friend" to the US, but called on Washington to have a greater, more nuanced understanding of India's geography and its geopolitical position.
"This recognition that there is a friend, but that friend's geographical location is got to be understood. And a friend cannot be weakened for any reason. [It is important to have a] geographical appreciation of where we are located...," the 62-year-old told reporters in Washinton DC.
"Northern borders being under tension even despite COVID-19, the western border constantly at odds and sometimes even the equipment's given to meet the terrorist issues in Afghanistan being diverted to hit at us ... these developments nobody can have an alternative," Sitharaman explained.
The finance minister went on to address India's energy dependence, and clarified that most of India's energy imports came from the Middle-East and the US, adding that the "portion of crude coming from Russia is not more than 3-4 per cent."
She also reiterated Prime Minister Narendra Modi's offer of supplying Indian food grains to the world if the World Trade Organization (WTO) permits it.