(Bloomberg) -- Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida prodded his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi to speak against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine at their meeting on Monday, adding pressure on New Delhi to choose between major world democracies and a key supplier of energy and weapons.
“I want to stop Russia’s invasion as fast as possible, Kishida told reporters after the meeting. “To achieve that, the international community, including the Global South must speak out,” he added, using a term for developing countries.
India holds the presidency of the Group of 20 nations, whose members Russia and China have opposed efforts by the wider group to condemn the invasion. The Group of Seven advanced economies, chaired by Japan this year, have renewed their support for Ukraine. Kishida is seeking to bridge the gap.
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The G-7 countries, themselves members of the G-20, are seeking wider backing for measures to punish Russian President Vladimir Putin, including a cap on the price of Russian crude. India and other G-20 members have bought large quantities of discounted Russian oil.
“We affirmed that we have responsibility for maintaining and strengthening the international order based on the rule of law,” Kishida said of his discussions with Modi. “We agreed it is also important for G-7 and G-20 to make this clear.”
Modi had earlier laid out to his Japanese counterpart that the G-7 needs to reflect the concerns of the developing economies that make up the Global South, India’s Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra told reporters. For his part, Kishida invited Modi to G-7, along with the leaders of other developing countries such as Indonesia, Vietnam and Brazil.
Despite India’s efforts, two crucial G-20 gatherings in February and March — the finance and foreign ministers’ meetings — ended without a consensus after members disagreed over the invasion of Ukraine.
India’s Ministry of External Affairs had declined to comment on Japan’s endeavor to find common ground on Russia between the two groupings.
Kishida also announced a new initiative for Indo-Pacific nations to counter China at the Indian Council of World Affairs on Monday.
Expressing concern about the lack of global consensus on what the international order should be, he called for “rulemaking through dialogue” to find “principles for peace and rules for prosperity.” He also stated his intention to extend the framework for a Free and Open Indo-Pacific to ensure safe and secure skies.
“The people who suffer the most from the erosion of the rule of law in the international community are vulnerable countries,” he said.
The new initiative continues Japan’s earlier plan of working closely with India in the Indo-Pacific region. Kishida criticized Russia’s behavior several times in the speech, but didn’t refer to China.
While India is locked in a military standoff with China along its disputed Himalayan border, Japan has clashed with China over issues including the ownership of islands in the East China Sea. Tokyo and New Delhi are concerned about Beijing’s assertiveness in the region and are adding depth to their defense and strategic relations.
In January, fighters and transport aircraft of Japan’s Air Self-Defense Force and the Indian Air Force carried out their first joint exercise, simulating complex air defense and attack situations at Hyakuri Air Base as the two countries deepen security cooperation.
--With assistance from Jon Herskovitz.
(Updates with Kishida comments.)
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