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India deserves higher global role and profile: PM Modi

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NEW DELHI: India deserves a much higher, deeper and wider profile and role at the global stage, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Tuesday as he embarked on a landmark state visit to the US, asserting that ties with Washington were stronger than ever.

In an interview with The Wall Street Journal ahead of his first state visit, Modi

also asserted that India was not “supplanting any country” and was aiming at gaining its “rightful” position in the world.

His remarks came as a response to WSJ’s view that India, which has invested enormously in education and infrastructure, was poised to gain as multinationals look to diversify manufacturing and supply chains in an era of geopolitical tension.

The Prime Minister also talked about the India-China relationship, saying peace and tranquillity in the border areas are essential for normal bilateral ties.

“We have a core belief in respecting sovereignty and territorial integrity, observing the rule of law and peaceful resolution of differences and disputes. At the same time, India is fully prepared and committed to protect its sovereignty and dignity,” he told the US newspaper.

Modi, who left for the US this morning, said ties between New Delhi and Washington are stronger and deeper than ever.

There is an “unprecedented trust” between the leaders of the US and India, Modi said.

Modi also pointed out that he is the first Prime Minister to be born in free India.

“And that’s why my thought process, my conduct, what I say and do, is inspired and influenced by my country’s attributes and traditions. I derive my strength from it,” he said.

“I present my country to the world as my country is, and myself as I am,” he said.

On the Ukraine conflict, Modi said, “Some people say that we are neutral. But we are not neutral. We are on the side of peace.”

“All countries should respect international law and the sovereignty of countries,” he said.

Disputes should be resolved with diplomacy and dialogue, not war, he added.

Modi said he has spoken several times to Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

He said he recently spoke to Zelenskyy on the sidelines of the G7 summit in Japan in May.

“India will do whatever it can” and supports “all genuine efforts to bring an end to the conflict and ensure enduring peace and stability”, he said.

The US daily said Washington has put pressure on India to reduce its dependence on Moscow for arms, and some in the US have criticised Modi’s government for not taking a more forceful stance against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“I don’t think this type of perception is widespread in the US,” said Modi, referring to criticism of India’s stance on Russia.

“I think India’s position is well known and well understood in the entire world. The world has full confidence that India’s topmost priority is peace,” the Prime Minister said.

In his interview, Modi linked many of the world’s problems, such as terrorism, proxy wars and expansionism, to a failure of global institutions created during the Cold War to adapt, saying that smaller and regional groupings have emerged in the vacuum. He said global institutions such as the UN must change.

He said, “Look at the membership of key institutions — does it truly represent the voice of democratic values?”

“A place like Africa — does it have a voice? India has such a huge population and is a bright spot in the global economy, but is it present?”

Signalling India’s desire to be part of the UN Security Council, the prime minister pointed to the country’s role as a contributor of troops to peacekeeping operations around the world.

There has to be an evaluation of the current membership of the council and the world should be asked if it wants India to be there, he said.

The US daily said the Indian government has invested enormously in education and infrastructure, and it is poised to gain as multinationals look to diversify manufacturing and supply chains in an era of geopolitical tension. It also gave examples of Apple and Foxconn Technology Group among the companies making significant new investments in India.

“Let me be clear that we do not see India as supplanting any country. We see this process as India gaining its rightful position in the world,” Modi told the newspaper.

“The world today is more interconnected and interdependent than ever before. To create resilience, there should be more diversification in supply chains,” he said. (PTI)

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