India's Modi urges direct negotiations between Putin and Zelenskiy

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India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi gestures as he arrives inside the parliament premises on the first day of the budget session in New Delhi, India, January 31, 2022. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi

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NEW DELHI, March 7 (Reuters) - Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday urged Russian President Vladimir Putin to hold direct talks with his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelenskiy, in addition to ongoing negotiations, a government source said.

Modi, who spoke to Zelenskiy before a 50 minute-long call with Putin, was briefed by the Russian leader on the status of the negotiations between the two warring countries, the source said.

"Prime Minister Modi urged President Putin to hold direct talks with President Zelenskiy of Ukraine," the source said, declining to be named in line with government policy.

In his call with Zelenskiy, Modi expressed deep concern about the conflict and the humanitarian crisis it had caused, a government statement said.

Modi underlined the need to evacuate Indian students trapped in eastern Ukraine, including around 700 nationals in the city of Sumy, according to the source and the statement.

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Reporting by Devjyot Ghoshal and Krishna N. Das, Editing by Shri Navaratnam and Ed Osmond

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