Quad to meet next week in Singapore

In this November 2, 2018 file photo, Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses during the launch of MSME Support and Outreach Programme in New Delhi.  

Officials from Australia, India, Japan and the United States will hold the third "Quadrilateral" or Quad meeting in Singapore on November 14th, government and diplomatic sources confirmed to The Hindu. The meet, that comes exactly a year after the format was revived, will be held on the sidelines of the East Asia Summit, that Prime Minister Narendra Modi will attend, and is expected to focus on infrastructure projects, maritime security cooperation and discuss regional challenges including development.

India and Japan have recently announced a series of joint projects along what they have called the "Asia-Africa growth corridor" in the Indo-Pacific region. Among the projects that they will work together on are the Jamuna Railway bridge in Bangladesh and other bridges in North Eastern states; housing, school and electricity projects in Rohingya areas in Myanmar, an LNG plant in Sri Lanka and a cancer hospital in Kenya.

"Through the confluence of the Pacific and the Indian Oceans, stretching from the Asia-Pacific to Africa, you can now visualize the strong currents of peace, stability and prosperity we can unleash….India is literally located at the heart of the Indo-Pacific region," Japanese Ambassador Kenji Hiramatsu said at a regional connectivity conference last week while listing the projects.

Similiarly, Australian PM Morrison unveiled a massive $2 billion ‘Australian Infrastructure Financing Facility for the Pacific’ (AIFFP) this week which he will fund projects in neighbouring countries like Fiji, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu, and also announced plans for closer defence and maritime security cooperation under a "Boe Pacific Security Declaration" that will include a naval base in Papua New Guinea (PNG). In his speech Mr. Morisson called for cooperation from "New Zealand, US, Japan, China, France and the UK," but officials said Australia would welcome an Indian interest in aligning the projects with its plans for the Forum for India Pacific Islands Co-operation (FIPIC), when they meet for the Quad next week.

"There is a growing ease between the four countries in the format, and less resistance to holding conversations on different aspects of the engagement," a diplomat said ahead of the meeting in Singapore.

However, officials from all four nations of the Quad conceded that while the Quad has made some progress over the year, many areas of divergence remain. To begin with, India has yet to agree to Australia’s request to join the Malabar, and the officials said it was still "too early" to discuss "militarising" the Quad. The Quad has also shied away from using any strong language on maritime security in the Indo-Pacific, which may portray it as a platform against China. PM Modi’s speech at the Shangri-La dialogue this year where he said that "India doesn’t see the Indo-Pacific Region as a strategy or as a club of limited members" as clearly distinguishing the Quad from the Indo-Pacific, and India has also resisted raising the level of the Quad from the current assistant secretary/ joint secretary level to that of Foreign Secretary/Foreign Minister level as the US and Japan have been pushing for. Finally, officials said some misgivings remain amongst ASEAN countries that are ringed by the Quad countries that would need to be ironed out, which would also be on the agenda at the meetings in Singapore on the sidelines of the ASEAN summit, RCEP summit and East Asia summit next week.



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Printable version | Jun 22, 2021 4:41:37 AM |

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