Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday said India was committed to protecting the climate, irrespective of the 2015 Paris Agreement. His comments came when he was asked about the United States’ move to withdraw from the climate deal. When asked if he will side with the US or the other nations in the Paris deal, he said, “It is not a question of which way I go. I will go with the future generations.”

The moderator of the interactive session at the St Petersburg International Economic Forum, journalist Megan Kelly, then asked Modi if his earlier remark, saying it would be “criminal” to not act on climate change, was meant for US President Donald Trump. The prime minister said people were trying to “sensationalise” things.

“I would put it very simply,” he said. “I am simply talking about the aspirations or the dreams new India has for itself.” He then explained that the vedas, “the knowledge bank of India” from about 5,000 years ago, talked about protection of the environment.

“[In the vedas] it was mentioned…we have the right to milk nature, however, we do not have the right to exploit nature,” he said. “This is what our vedas said 5,000 years ago.”

The prime minister then said three days ago when he was in Germany somebody had asked him the same question. “We did not have any statement from anyone at that time,” he said in an apparent reference to Trump’s announcement. “In Germany, I had mentioned that whether there is Paris Accord or no Paris Accord, we are convinced that we must not steal something that rightfully belongs to the next generation. We have to make sure that we must leave behind a beautiful and bountiful nature for our next generation.”

Meanwhile, global leaders condemned Trump’s decision to exit the Paris Agreement including Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni, German chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron. Trump’s decision to withdraw from the climate deal and attack India and China comes at a most inopportune time for India – Prime Minister Narendra Modi is slated to visit the White House later this month, though the official dates have not been announced.