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India, Japan, U.S., Australia hold first ‘Quad’ talks at Manila ahead of ASEAN Summit

Talks over dinner: Prime Minister Narendra Modi with U.S. President Donald Trump, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and other leaders at a dinner in Manila on Sunday.

Talks over dinner: Prime Minister Narendra Modi with U.S. President Donald Trump, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and other leaders at a dinner in Manila on Sunday.   | Photo Credit: PTI

‘Open’ and inclusive regional vision and anti-terrrorism cooperation were discussed.

Beginning a diplomatic initiative, India on Sunday participated in the first formal official-level discussions here under the recently floated regional coalition known as the ‘Quad’, the quadrilateral formation that includes Japan, India, United States and Australia. The quadrilateral talks were held even as Prime Minister Narendra Modi interacted with Premier Shinzo Abe of Japan and U.S. President Donald Trump at a gala dinner thrown by President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines for the leaders who are here to participate in the 31st ASEAN and the 12th East Asia summits.

“The discussions focussed on cooperation based on their converging vision and values for promotion of peace, stability and prosperity in an increasingly inter-connected region that they share with each other and with other partners. They agreed that a free, open, prosperous and inclusive Indo-Pacific region serves the long-term interests of all countries in the region and of the world at large. The officials also exchanged views on addressing common challenges of terrorism and proliferation linkages impacting the region as well as on enhancing connectivity,” the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said in a statement on the quadrilateral.

However, indicating the simmering regional tension with China and Beijing’s assertiveness over the South China Sea issue, a statement from the Australian Foreign Ministry informed that freedom of navigation was discussed at the ‘Quad.’ It said, “Upholding the rules-based order in the Indo-Pacific and respect for international law, freedom of navigation and overflight; increase(ed) connectivity; ... challenges of countering terrorism and upholding maritime security in the Indo-Pacific” were also discussed.

A statement from the U.S. State Department said the discussions would continue as the partners were “committed to deepening cooperation, which rests on a foundation of shared democratic values and principles.”

The Indian team at the ‘Quad’ consisted of the Joint Secretary in charge of the East Asia division in MEA, Pranay Verma, and the Joint Secretary in charge of South division, Vinay Kumar.

 

The leaders of the quadrilateral countries, Mr. Abe, Mr. Modi, and Mr. Trump participated in the dinner dressed in the Barong Tagalog, the traditional Filipino shirt for men.

The event was also attended by Premiers Li Keqiang of China and Dmitry Medvedev of Russia.

The U.S.’s statement indicated that further cooperation “to curtail DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea)’s nuclear and missile programmes and unlawful acts” were also on the agenda of Sunday’s discussions.

Indian official sources emphasised that the quadrilateral was not aimed at any other country and said New Delhi was also involved in similar groupings in the region to deal with security and political issues.

The quadrilateral meeting is significant as it was held in the backdrop of the comments by the Chinese Premier urging reduction in tension over regional issues like the South China Sea dispute. “The wise expand common ground while the unwise aggravate differences,” said Premier Li in a newspaper article, defending the Chinese position in the dispute.

 

 

 

 

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Printable version | Mar 30, 2020 5:06:57 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/india-highlights-indo-pacific-cooperation-at-the-first-quad-talks/article20317526.ece

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