Bali (Indonesia): In optics that carry diplomatic significance, US President Joe Biden walked over to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to shake his hand before they took their seats next to each at the ongoing G20 Summit in Bali, Indonesia.
In a video, PM Modi at first appears to have missed seeing President Biden approaching him, but then turns around quickly for a handshake and gives him a hug. As President Biden proceeds to his seat, PM Modi says something to him that makes him laugh. India's Foreign Minister S Jaishankar and National Security Adviser Ajit Doval are looking on, and later take seats just behind the two leaders.
The Biden-Modi handshake and side-hug come at a time when India has been asserting that it's not obliged to toeing the US line against Russia on the Ukraine war. While calling for a ceasefire and talks as a solution to the conflict, India has abstained from voting either way at the UN on the Russia-Ukraine question.
On the question of buying — at a time when the US and others in the West have been slamming President Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine — the Indian government has said there is no moral conflict, “absolutely none”, in India buying from Russia.
Earlier during the G20 Summit, PM Modi invoked World War 2 to say that the world has to find a way to return to the path of diplomacy in Ukraine. "Over the past century, the Second World War wreaked havoc in the world. After that, the leaders of that time made a serious effort to take the path of peace. Now it's our turn," he said.
India is set to take over the presidency of the G20, a powerful bloc that represents 85 per cent of global GDP and 75 per cent of global trade, and will be hosting the summit next year. "I am confident that next year when the G20 meets in the holy land of Buddha and Gandhi, we will all agree to convey a strong message of peace to the world," PM Modi said.