New Delhi, March 30: The Russia-Ukraine conflict could come up during President Ram Nath Kovind’s talks with the Dutch leadership during his visit to the Netherlands next week and he would reiterate India’s “clear position” on the issue, a senior Ministry of External Affairs official said on Wednesday.
Sanjay Verma, Secretary West in the MEA, made the remarks at a press briefing on President Kovind’s week-long visit to Turkmenistan and the Netherlands starting April 1 during which he would hold talks with the leadership of those countries to strengthen bilateral ties.
At the invitation of the President of Turkmenistan, President Kovind will pay a state visit to Turkmenistan from April 1-4, he said.
Verma pointed out that this will be the first-ever visit of the President of India to independent Turkmenistan and comes just after the inauguration of the new Turkmen President, Serdar Berdimuhamedov.
He said the main elements of the visit will include a t te- -t te with Serdar Berdimuhamedov followed by bilateral delegation-level talks, signing of several MoUs, a separate media statement, address to international relations institute in Ashgabat and some cultural programmes by Turkmen artistes.
“We will have a joint statement and MoUs on disaster management, financial intelligence, programme of cooperation in culture and youth affairs and release of joint postal stamp to commemorate 30 years of establishment of diplomatic ties,” Verma said.
“The state visit of the president will reaffirm the importance we attach to Turkmenistan, not only bilaterally but also in terms of our extended neighbourhood concept and role in India-Central Asia partnership,” he said.
Asked if the issue of the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) pipeline could come up during talks, Verma said, “Talks are ongoing (on TAPI)… these conversations on TAPI began in the last few years of the 20th century. It is a difficult neighbourhood if you look at the geography, so in that sense this itself was a task in negotiating the pipeline.”
“Thereafter it is on record that India has some concerns about the commercial and business aspect of the TAPI pipeline and that is being discussed,” he said, adding that the president’s visit will be another opportunity to “revisit where we stand” on this issue.
He also said Afghanistan will also figure in the president’s talks with the Turkmen leadership.
The visit to Turkmenistan will be followed by a state visit to the Kingdom of Netherlands from April 4-7 at the invitation of King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima, Verma said.
During the visit to the Netherlands, President Kovind will hold discussions with the majesties and Mark Rutte, Prime Minister of the Netherlands, he said.
President Kovind will attend the state banquet hosted by the majesties and Prime Minister Rutte will call on him. He will also meet president of senate and president of house of representatives and address the Indian community, Verma said.
During the visit, the president will host a cultural performance on the Ramayana in the Netherlands which will be graced by King and Queen.
Asked if the Ukraine crisis would be discussed during talks with the Dutch leadership, Verma said, “It will not be surprising if it is raised. Our position on Ukraine is clear and there is understanding in our friends in Europe. Our position, as nuanced as it may seem to many, it is a distinct position and has been spelled out over the last four weeks.”
“Rashtrapati ji will convey this to the Netherlands side, we see a broader acceptance of our position and in the Netherlands, we will have a first-hand experience to share that,” he said.
Minister of State in the Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying and Ministry of Information and Broadcasting L Murugan and Lok Sabha MP Dilip Ghosh would be part of the president’s delegation during the visit. (PTI)