Senior officials from India, U.S. and Japan discussed trilateral cooperation in maritime security and a route through middle or north of Myanmar leading up to Hanoi for over five hours on Monday.
The third trilateral which met till late in the night also exchanged proposals on doing projects together in Africa as well as cooperating on the economic side in Afghanistan with reliable sources asserting that “China was not really discussed in great detail except as part of the region.”
With this meeting, the three countries completed a cycle of talks that began with the first meeting in Washington in December last year followed by the next one in Tokyo this April.
In the area of maritime security, they touched upon some specific areas of cooperation which will fructify in the next cycle of talks that will begin after the U.S. Presidential elections are over and the next administration has settled down.
The trilateral began with each side giving a strategic overview of the Asia Pacific. While presentations by India and the U.S. covered a wide swathe from the Gulf of Aden to the South China Sea, the Japanese briefing was narrower with the focus primarily on its dispute with China over the Senkaku islands.
Discussions on Myanmar were of great interest to India. While India has taken up a trilateral connectivity initiative with Myanmar and Thailand, this meeting touched on a route through upper Myanmar that would lead into Vietnam. Discussions were of a perfunctory nature and are likely to be aired when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh meets his counterparts from South East Asian countries in Phnom Penh after a fortnight.
While the U.S. and India have already taken the first steps to join hands in select African countries and India has been raising the issue bilaterally with Japan, the trilateral appreciated India’s solo efforts in the continent and felt all sides could collaborate on some projects to ensure their money was better spent. Sources insisted that since all three countries were active in providing economic assistance to Afghanistan, discussions about the country mainly revolved around economic issues.
Briefing newspersons, Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said officials also deliberated on the East Asia summit and Association of South East Asian Nations the (Asean). All three countries along with China, South Korea, New Zealand, Australia and Russia are dialogue partners of the 10-member Asean.