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Biden discusses exerting more pressure on Russia with Indian PM

US President Joe Biden and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi held talks as Washington pushed its Asian ally to support its response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Both leaders publicly expressed growing alarm at the destruction occurring in Ukraine, particularly in Bucha, where many civilians have been killed.

During the hour-long talk, Biden told Modi that it was not in India’s interest to increase oil imports from Russia, but he stopped short of making any specific demands, US officials said.

“It was a very candid conversation. India is gonna make its own judgments,” a senior US official said.

The United States seeks more help from India in condemning and applying economic pressure on Russia for its invasion of Ukraine.

“Recently, the news of the killings of innocent civilians in the city of Bucha was very worrying. We immediately condemned it and have asked for an independent probe,” Modi said during a brief portion of the meeting open to reporters.

Modi also told Biden he had suggested in recent conversations with Russia that Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky hold direct talks.

Lured by steep discounts following Western sanctions on Russia, India has purchased at least 13 million barrels of Russian crude oil since February. That compared with some 16 million barrels for the whole of last year.

White House spokesperson Jen Psaki said that Biden very clearly stated that it is not in India’s interest to increase that amount. She did not disclose whether India had made any commitments on energy imports but said Washington is ready to help the country diversify its sources of energy.

The Biden-Modi meeting will be followed by talks between US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, Indian External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar and Indian Defense Minister Rajnath Singh.

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