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UK PM Liz Truss, Ukraine President Zelenskyy among 10 others mention India at UN General Assembly; Bhutan, Nepal thanked for Covid vaccines

12 country leaders mentioned India at this year’s UNGA. Some lauded its role, others ranted on usual subjects and a few countries like Bhutan and Nepal thanked India for helping them with India-made COVID vaccines

  • UK's Prime Minister Elizabeth Truss and German chancellor Olaf Scholz highlighted ties with New Delhi
  • The German Chancellor mentioned his government being involved with India for G7 discussions
  • 3 countries, Portugal, Russia and Ukraine backed India being a member of a reformed United Nations Security Council

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UK PM Liz Truss, Ukraine President Zelenskyy among 10 others mention India at UN General Assembly; Bhutan, Nepal thanked for Covid vaccines

New Delhi: India was mentioned by 12 leaders at this year's United Nations General assembly, many of them thanking India for its support amid covid, others lauding its role & some ranting by usual suspects. French President Emmanuel Macron recalled PM Modi's remarks to Russian President Putin on the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine during Samarkand bilateral meeting. Lauding the comments, Macron said, "As Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India, rightly said: today’s era is not an era of war". The comments have been widely welcomed in the west, and no world leader has made such direct comments to the Russian President on the conflict that began in February this year.

2 western leaders, UK's Prime Minister Elizabeth Truss and German chancellor Olaf Scholz highlighted ties with New Delhi. PM Truss said that her country is "deepening links with fellow democracies like India, Israel, Indonesia and South Africa." India and UK are currently engaged in Free trade agreement talks, and with London's Indo-Pacific tilt policy, engagement with New Delhi is set to increase further. 

The German Chancellor mentioned his government being involved with "countries holding the Chairmanship of the African Union and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States in our discussions as the G7, as well as India and South Africa". As the chair of the G7, Germany had invited India to attend the summit earlier this year at Schloss Elmau. Important to know PM Modi visited Germany twice this year, first on a bilateral visit, then to attend the G7 summit.

3 countries, Portugal, Russia and Ukraine backed India being a member of a reformed United Nations Security Council. Portugal PM António Costa said that the UNSC "should have permanent seats for the African continent, Brazil and India and should represent small countries more fairly." 

Notably, Costa is of Indian origin with his father's side being from Goa. He has been to India many times, and during one bilateral visit gave Indian PM Modi a jersey of Portugal's football icon Cristiano Ronaldo.

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the only leader to address this year's summit virtually also for reforms at the high table, pointing, "This is an imbalance when Africa, Latin America, most of Asia, Central and Eastern Europe comply with the right of veto, that they themselves never had", adding, "For some reason. For what reason, not Japan or Brazil, not Türkiye or India, not Germany or Ukraine. The day will come when this will be resolved." 

Ukraine's president mentioned India, along with a whole host of countries who were able to get supplies of Ukrainian agricultural products due to the UN-led Russia-Ukraine deal for the export of agricultural products to the international community amid the ongoing conflict.

Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov also backed India's bid for UNSC, identifying "India and Brazil — key international actors — as worthy candidates to the permanent membership." 

Venezuela's Foreign minister Carlos Rafael Faría Tortosa slammed a "unipolar" world and that the "north" must "accept new Powers and the new leadership of China, the Russian Federation, India, Iran and Türkiye". While the US president called for reforms of the United Nations security council, it was only in briefing later by US govt officials, they pointed out that White House backs India's bid for the high table.

Bhutan and Nepal both thanked India for their support amid the covid crisis. Bhutan's foreign minister Tandi Dorji said, "Today, more than 90% of our entire population stand fully vaccinated. This, in no small measure, was possible due to the heartwarming goodwill of friends and partners, including India, whose Vaccine Maitri initiative enabled the full first round of vaccinations for our adult population." 

Bhutan was the first country, along with the Maldives to get India-made covid vaccines, which helped both countries. Nepal's foreign secretary Bharat Raj Paudyal, on similar lines, said, "In Nepal, we have been able to fully vaccinate 96 per cent of the target population, with almost everyone receiving at least one dose. We thank our immediate neighbours - India and China, our development partners".

Guyana President Mohamed Irfaan Ali, expressing worry about global food prices said, "export bans of rice from India and wheat from Russia contributed to a price increase of 12.3% and 9% for rice and wheat respectively."

The Ukraine conflict and its impact on food and fuel prices was a recurring theme during this year's address by global leaders, particularly from the global south. Ali said, "since the onset of the Russia-Ukraine war, global food prices increased sharply reaching an all-time high in February 2022."

On expected lines, Turkiye and Pakistan mentioned India and Kashmir, both of whom got replies from India in some way or another. Türkiye's President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan hyphenating, India and Pakistan said, "We regret that a strong peace, and cooperation between India and Pakistan has still not yet been established, despite 75 years following their independence", adding, "We hope that a just and lasting peace, and tranquility will be reached in Kashmir." 

While he did mention Kashmir, his position was seen as a change of stance given since 2019 when India removed special status for the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir, he has been critical of Delhi and even mentioned the UNSC resolution's implementation. Hours after his comments, Indian external affairs minister Dr S Jaishankar met Turkish's foreign minister and raised the situation in Cyprus, a touchy issue for Ankara.

Lastly, Pakistan came as no surprise, as PM Shehbaz Sharif mentioned Kashmir more than 12 times, and India more than 9 times, much more than his mention of climate (7 times) and Floods (2 times). Hours after his comments at UNGA, India in its right of reply slammed his comments. 

Indian diplomat Mijito Vinito said, "It is regrettable that the Prime Minister of Pakistan has chosen the platform of this august assembly to make false accusations against India", explaining that he has done so to "obfuscate misdeeds in his own country and to justify actions against India that the world considers unacceptable."

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