External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar will embark on a six-day visit to Germany and France from Friday during which he will attend a key security conference and a ministerial meet on the Indo-Pacific besides holding bilateral talks. Making an announcement on the two-nation visit, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said on Thursday that Jaishankar will participate in the Munich Security Conference (MSC) in Germany and will also hold talks with foreign ministers and other senior delegates attending it.
The MSC is expected to extensively deliberate on the escalating tension between the NATO countries and Russia over Ukraine. At MSC, he will participate in a panel discussion on the Indo-Pacific and will also lead discussions at an 'Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav' event, being hosted by the Indian consulate in Munich and the Observer Research Foundation.
From Germany, Jashankar will travel to France where he will hold bilateral talks with his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian on February 20, MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said at a media briefing. "At Le Drian's invitation, the external affairs minister will also attend the EU Ministerial Forum for Cooperation in the Indo-Pacific on February 22," he said.
The forum is an initiative of the French Presidency of the European Council. "The external affairs minister will hold bilateral meetings with counterparts from the EU and other Indo-Pacific countries on the sidelines of the forum. He will also give an address at the French Institute of International Relations (IFRI)," Bagchi said.
The 27-nation European Union has been in touch with India over the Ukraine crisis.An EU official on Wednesday said that the grouping has kept India in the loop about its assessment of the situation in Ukraine as also on the possible consequences it has planned for Russia if it invades the eastern European country.
"We keep India, as a friend and partner, appraised of our views and of our assessment of the situation. What we wish to convey is that all of our efforts are directed towards dialogue but we stand firm on our principles that cannot be negotiated because they define the very essence of Europe's security architecture," the official said. The US has already sent extra troops to Europe to support its allies in the backdrop of fears of a Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Russia has positioned around 100,000 troops near its border with Ukraine besides sending warships into the Black Sea for naval exercises, triggering concerns among the NATO countries about a potential Russian invasion of Ukraine. Russia has been denying that it plans to invade Ukraine.
With PTI Inputs