‘Only way forward..’: India bats for peace at Ukraine conference hosted by Saudi | Latest News India - Hindustan Times

‘Only way forward..’: India bats for peace at Ukraine conference hosted by Saudi

Aug 06, 2023 08:56 PM IST

National Security Adviser Ajit Doval said India will remain an active and willing partner to find a lasting and comprehensive solution, and nothing will give India more satisfaction than such an outcome

Dialogue and diplomacy are the only way forward in the Ukraine crisis and the world community must soften the conflict’s consequences as it works to end the fighting, National Security Adviser (NSA) Ajit Doval told a conference on the war hosted by Saudi Arabia.

NSA Ajit Doval addressed the conference on Ukraine hosted by Saudi Arabia in Jeddah. (File Photo)
NSA Ajit Doval addressed the conference on Ukraine hosted by Saudi Arabia in Jeddah. (File Photo)

Senior political officials and NSAs from some 40 countries, including China, France, Germany, the UK and the US, participated in the conference in-person or online in an effort to identify principles that can end hostilities. Russia was excluded from the two-day meeting.

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Addressing the gathering in Jeddah on Saturday, Doval said all peace efforts involving all stakeholders must be pursued to find a “just and enduring solution”, and that India is participating in the meeting in this spirit.

“India’s approach has been and always will be to promote dialogue and diplomacy. This is the only way forward for peace,” Doval said. “The meeting confronts a two-fold challenge – resolution of the situation and softening the consequences of the conflict. Efforts must be directed on both fronts simultaneously and much more groundwork is needed to ensure this.”

The whole world, especially the Global South, is bearing the brunt of the situation, and India is providing humanitarian assistance to Ukraine and economic aid to countries of the Global South, he said.

India, Doval pointed out, has regularly engaged Russia and Ukraine at the highest levels since the start of the conflict. India also supports the global order based on principles in the UN Charter and international law. Respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity by all states “must be upheld without exception,” he said.

Though several peace formulas have been proposed, each has “some positive points” but none is “acceptable to both sides”, Doval noted. The key question to be addressed is whether a solution acceptable to all relevant stakeholders can be found, he said.

In this context, India will remain an “active and willing partner” to find a lasting and comprehensive solution, and nothing will give India more satisfaction than such an outcome, Doval said.

At the conclusion of the meeting, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s chief of staff, Andriy Yermak, said there were “productive consultations” on the key principles on which a just and lasting peace should be built.

“We had an extremely honest, open conversation, during which representatives of each country could voice their position and vision. There were different views, but all the participants demonstrated their countries’ commitment to the principles of the UN Charter, international law, and respect for the sovereignty and inviolability of the territorial integrity of states,” Yermak said.

The US delegation was led by NSA Jake Sullivan, while China was represented by the special envoy for Eurasian affairs, Li Hui. Western officials acknowledged the importance of Saudi diplomacy in securing China’s presence in the meet. China didn’t attend the first round of talks in Copenhagen in June.

An unnamed European Union official told Reuters the Saudis would present a plan for further talks, with working groups to discuss issues such as food security, nuclear safety and prisoner releases. The official added there was “agreement that respect of territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine needs to be at the heart of any peace settlement”.

A 10-point peace formula first proposed by Zelenskyy at last year’s G20 Summit, which calls for full withdrawal of Russian troops, was among the main issues discussed at the Jeddah meet. A member of the Ukrainian delegation told Al-Arabiya news channel the formula “received more support than in Copenhagen”.

The conference is being seen as a fresh push by Ukraine to build support for its cause by going beyond its traditional Western backers and reaching out to developing countries that haven’t taken sides in the conflict. Like India, Saudi Arabia hasn’t publicly criticised Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

In an address to the Ukrainian people on Saturday, Zelenskyy acknowledged differences among countries attending the Jeddah meeting and emphasised the importance of “consolidation of the world” for restoring peace.

Zelenskyy said: “Different continents, different political approaches to global affairs, but everyone is united by the priority of international law. And it is for this that Ukraine proposed the peace formula because the international rules-based order, violated by Russian aggression, must be restored.”

He added, “The greater the consolidation of the world for the sake of restoring a just peace, the sooner an end will be put to the bombs and missiles with which Moscow wants to replace the norms of international law.”

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