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PTI

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Thursday night held separate telephonic conversations with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, insisting that dialogue and diplomacy are the best way forward to defuse the Ukraine crisis.

As Russia's full-scale attack on Ukraine triggered widespread condemnation and fears of a wider conflict, India has been in touch with all parties concerned as part of overall global efforts to bring down the tensions.

In his talks with Lavrov, Jaishankar conveyed to the Russian foreign minister that "dialogue and diplomacy" are the best way forward to defuse the crisis.

"Just spoke to Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov of Russia on the Ukraine developments. Underlined that dialogue and diplomacy are the best way forward," the External Affairs Minister tweeted.

Jaishankar is also understood to have apprised Lavrov of the importance India attached to the safe evacuation of around 16,000 Indians from Ukraine.

In another tweet, Jaishankar said the discussion with Blinken was on the ongoing developments in Ukraine and its implications.

"Appreciate the call from @SecBlinken. Discussed the ongoing developments in Ukraine and its implications," he said.

The US State Department said Blinken spoke with Jaishankar to discuss Russia's "premeditated, unprovoked, and unjustified" attack on Ukraine.

"Secretary Blinken stressed the importance of a strong collective response to condemn Russia's invasion and call for an immediate withdrawal and ceasefire," it said.

Jaishankar also spoke to EU High Representative for foreign affairs Josep Borrell and British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss on the evolving situation in Ukraine.

"A telephonic discussion with UK Foreign Secretary @trussliz. Exchanged perspectives on the Ukrainian situation," he tweeted.

Following the Russian attack on Ukraine, India underlined the need for dialogue among the key parties and said it will be more than happy to facilitate that engagement.

Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla said at a media briefing on Thursday evening that India has been in "close touch" with all concerned including the US, Russia and the European Union as it has a "stake" in the region.

"We have maintained that the parties need to talk to each other, parties need to be engaged and if there is anything that we can do to facilitate that engagement, we are more than happy to do. As we go along we will try and be as helpful as possible," Shringla said.

On Western sanctions on Russia, the foreign secretary said certain unilateral sanctions were already existing and that some additional sanctions have now been imposed.

"But this is an evolving situation as I said and we have to see what sort of impact these sanctions will have on our own interests. Clearly, we need to study this carefully because any sanction will have an impact on our existing relationship. I think it would only be correct to acknowledge that factor," he said. PTI MPB
 

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