india pm modi calls for cessation of violence in talks with putin - India PM Modi calls for 'cessation of violence' in talks with Putin

NEW DELHI (AFP) – Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin by phone about the Ukraine crisis on Thursday (Feb 24) and called for an “immediate cessation of violence”, Mr Modi’s office said in a statement.

“(Modi) reiterated his long-standing conviction that the differences between Russia and the Nato group can only be resolved through honest and sincere dialogue,” the statement said.

The Indian prime minister “appealed for an immediate cessation of violence, and called for concerted efforts from all sides to return to the path of diplomatic negotiations and dialogue”, it added.

Mr Modi also “sensitised the Russian president about India’s concerns regarding the safety of the Indian citizens in Ukraine, especially students, and conveyed that India attaches the highest priority to their safe exit and return to India”.

Earlier, the foreign ministry in New Delhi said there were about 16,000 Indians in Ukraine and that efforts were being made to evacuate them, including with the help of Ukraine’s neighbours.

Around 4,000 Indians have already been evacuated since the government set up repatriation efforts a month ago, the ministry added.

India has historically had close ties with Russia, and Moscow is a major supplier of arms to the South Asian nation. Previous statements by India on the Ukraine crisis spoke of the “legitimate security concerns” of all sides.