Ukraine issue will be discussed between PM Modi, US President Biden: White House official

Washington, Jun 21 (PTI) The Ukraine issue will come up in the discussions between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Joe Biden, a White House official said.

National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby, however, said to what “degree specifically they will talk about a peace summit or a peace proposal, I cannot say right now”.

Modi is visiting the US from June 21-24 at the invitation of President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden, who will host him at a State Dinner on June 22. The visit also includes an address by the prime minister to the joint session of the US Congress on June 22.

Kirby also told press conference here on Tuesday that the US welcomes the role of a third-party country involved in the Ukrainian peace process.

He said that as for the role of other nations, “we have also long said we would welcome the role of a third-party country involved in a peace process, and we believe that there could be such a role for a third-party country in the peace process”.

But again, in order for that role to be sustainable and to have any chance at success, it is got to start with a “complete understanding of the Ukrainian perspective here and a complete and utter commitment to the UN Charter, to the idea of territorial integrity, to Ukraine’s sovereignty along its internationally recognised borders”, Kirby said.

He was responding to a question on if the Ukraine war would be discussed during the meeting between Prime Minister Modi and President Biden.

“There’s no doubt in my mind that the war in Ukraine will come up this week, during the State Visit, with Prime Minister Modi. No question about it,” Kirby said.

“Now, to what degree specifically they will talk about a peace summit or a peace proposal, I cannot say right now. We will have to wait to hear from the leaders after it. But there is no doubt in my mind that they will have a chance to talk about what is going on in Ukraine,” he said.

The White House official said that everyone wants to see this war end. “We would like to see it end today. And, as I have said many times, it could end today if (Russian President Vladimir Putin) Mr. Putin would do the right thing and pull his troops out,” Kirby said.

“Now, obviously, he (Putin) is not going to do that, and he is doubling down, and there is some pretty vicious fighting going on right now in the east and in the south of Ukraine,” he said.

Kirby said that “we have said many times that we support (Ukrainian) President (Volodymyr) Zelenskyy’s vision of a just peace, and we have said many times that any discussion, any credible discussion, whether it is at a summit or somewhere else or in smaller settings, any discussion, would be welcome only if it is going to be credible and sustainable”.

This means that it has to start with a foundation of a belief in Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity, and at least start with a discussion of the proposal that President Zelenskyy has put forward, the White House official said.

“You have heard President Biden say a million times ‘nothing about Ukraine without Ukraine’. That exists today,” Kirby said.