‘Friend Should Not Be Weakened’: FM Asks US To Understand India’s Geographical Challenges

New Delhi: Nirmala Sitharaman Union Finance Minister on Friday that India certainly wants a friendship with the United States and if Washington wants the same, it should understand the “friend’s geographical location.”

Nirmala Sitharaman was in Washington DC to attend the annual spring meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

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“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. Geographical appreciation of where we are located…northern borders being under tension even despite Covid, 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,” said the Finance Minister, as quoted by news agency PTI.

It is not as if India has a choice to relocate itself, Nirmala Sitharaman cited former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee as saying that “you can’t choose your neighbour, you can choose your friend.”

“India certainly wants a friendship with the United States. But if the US also wants a friend, the friend can be a weak friend, the friend should not be weakened. We are taking decisions, we are taking calls, we are taking calibrated position because we need to be strong where we are given the geographical locational realities,” Sitharaman said.

During her visit, she held a host of bilateral meetings and participated in many multilateral meetings. The Finance Minister also interacted with several top officials of the Biden administration.

Nirmala Sitharaman noted that the bilateral relationship between India and the US has moved forward and deepened: “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 equipments 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,” she added during an interaction with a group of Indian reporters in Washington DC at the conclusion of her trip.

She further said, “I see more and more windows of opportunities opening, rather than (US) keeping an arm’s distance saying you’ve calibrated your position on Russia doesn’t seem like you are getting closer to us. No.”

India Facing Difficulties With WTO On Exporting Cereals Amidst Global Food Crisis: Sitharaman

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday raised concerns that amidst a global shortage of food grains in the aftermath of the Russia-Ukraine, countries like India which have the potential to address this by exporting agricultural products, in particular cereals, are facing difficulties from the World Trade Organization.

 

“In some of the interactions that I’ve had, in one of the sessions (that) impacted the plenary itself, I had voiced that countries like India which have potential for exporting agricultural produce, particularly cereals, have faced difficulties with the WTO,” Sitharaman said, as quoted by PTI.

She further stated, “I was very positively inspired by the fact that in the plenary…response from the WTO was very positive. I hope we’ll break that decade-long restriction that has held us back from using our agricultural products after taking care of the buffer we need for food security purposes. So that the farmers also can get a better return.”

As per the Finance Minister, India has identified opportunities for the export of food grains and also manufacturing in the aftermath of the Ukrainian crisis.

(With Agency Inputs)

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