India on Thursday joined Australia, Japan and the United States to discuss the future of Asia-Pacific region as an inclusive space. Senior officials of the four countries held the discussion in Singapore.
“The participants reaffirmed their support for a free, open, prosperous and inclusive Indo-Pacific Region. They also confirmed their common commitment, based on shared values and principles, to promote a rules-based order in the Indo-Pacific,” a statement from the Ministry of External Affairs said.
The statement indicates the discomfort of the various stakeholders with China’s bid to alter the status quo in the South China Sea, that is interpreted as a hurdle to freedom of maritime and air movements.
The meeting was held between officials from the foreign ministries of India, Australia, Japan and the United States on the sidelines of ASEAN-focused Senior Officials’ Meeting. This meeting marks continuity of the similar discussion among the four countries that was held in Manila in October 2017. The last meeting was expected to lead to a higher level of consultation for forming a ‘Quadrilateral mechanism’ among the participating countries.
Statements by Australia and Japan also emphasised the need for ‘rules-based order’ in the Indo-Pacific region.
“The four countries confirmed a common commitment to uphold and strengthen the rules-based order in the Indo-Pacific, with shared democratic values in mind,” the statement from Japan declared following the meeting.
The participants expressed support for the ASEAN-related mechanism to help stabilise the Asia-Pacific region.
“They agreed to partner with all countries and institutions in the region to promote the shared vision of a peaceful, secure and prosperous Indo-Pacific, including through such plurilateral formats,” said the statement from the Ministry of External Affairs.