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EU can’t have 2 sets of rules on Russia oil imports: External affairs minister

The Times of India logo The Times of India 06-12-2022 Sachin Parashar
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NEW DELHI: Foreign minister S Jaishankar strongly defended India’s oil imports from Russia after a meeting with his German counterpart Annalena Baerbock saying Europe can't make choices in line with its energy needs priorities and asked India at the same time to do something else. Jaishankar said the EU had imported 6 times more oil than India from Russia.

The meeting saw the 2 countries signing an agreement on a Comprehensive Migration and Mobility Partnership which, the government said, will facilitate employment opportunities for fostering exchange of skills and talents. The German minister, who has been pushing her government to follow a more assertive China policy, hailed ties with India saying Germany, unlike with other countries in the region, shared a partnership of values with India and that India is not a substitute partner for China.

READ ALSO: India to continue buying oil from all countries including Russia: Official

While Baerbock said Russia’s 'illegal' war had created difficulties for India too, Jaishankar highlighted in a joint press conference that that the EU, between February 24 and November 17, imported more fossil fuel from Russia, than the next 10 countries combined.

"If I have to give you an India comparison, the oil import by EU is like 6 times what India imported. Gas is infinite because we don't import it. Even coal imports from Russia by the EU is 50 per cent more than India's imports," said Jaishankar, responding to a question from a German journalist.

READ ALSO: India can buy as much Russian oil as it wants, outside price cap: US

"I also understand Europe has a point of view. And Europe will make the choices it will make that is Europe’s right. But for Europe to make choices, which prioritize its energy needs, and then ask India to do something else (is unacceptable)," he added, as he emphasised that efforts to ramp up trade with Russia started well before the Ukraine war and that it would be determined by market forces.

"But I don't think people should read anything more into it other than the legitimate expectations of any trading country to increase its trade," he said, adding most European governments were understanding of India’s position on the conflict.

READ ALSO: India shared a list of products with Moscow for access to Russian market: S Jaishankar

Jaishankar also raised the issue of delay on the part of Germany in issuing visas to India. Apart from the war in Ukraine, the 2 ministers also discussed the situation in Afghanistan and the cross-border terrorism threat from Pakistan. He said Germany showed understanding of India’s position on Pakistan that talks and terror can’t go hand in hand. ``We discussed the challenge of cross border terrorism, and essentially the fact that we engage Pakistan bilaterally on whatever outstanding issues but the main challenge today is really the fact that we cannot have talks while there is terrorism and I think that was understanding from the German side, in this regard,’’ he said. Germany reiterated that J&K was a bilateral issue.

On negotiations with Russia and Ukraine to end the conflict, Jaishankar said it's not for India to specify conditions for dialogue. ‘’That’s not our intention. The Indian position articulated by PM Modi is that this is not an era of war, that dialogue and diplomacy is the answer,’’ he said.

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