RIC meeting reveals differences over Indo-Pacific region

It calls upon Taliban to adhere to recent meetings to stabilise situation in Afghanistan

November 26, 2021 10:36 pm | Updated 10:54 pm IST - NEW DELHI

 External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar digitally chairs the 18th Russia-India-China (RIC) Foreign Ministers' Meeting.

External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar digitally chairs the 18th Russia-India-China (RIC) Foreign Ministers' Meeting.

Friday’s virtual meeting among the Foreign Ministers of Russia, India and China revealed the inherent differences among the three countries on the future of the Indo-Pacific region. The discussion among Sergey Lavrov, S. Jaishankar and Wang Yi revealed that Russia and China consider the Indo-Pacific an exclusive concept while favouring the notion of “Asia-Pacific region” that they consider “inclusive”.

A statement from China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs referred to Mr. Lavrov’s comments in the meeting in which he reportedly described the Indo-Pacific region as “not a partnership of equals” and supported the notion of Asia-Pacific as a more “inclusive and harmonious” framework.

India along with the U.S., Japan and Australia has formed the quadrilateral framework to ensure free and open maritime lanes in the Indo-Pacific region. However, China’s statement indirectly disapproved of such initiatives. Mr. Lavrov, according to the Chinese statement, referred to such groupings as reminiscent of the Cold War.

The statement referred to “patchwork of small circles” while indirectly referring to the Quad initiative and urged all three countries to jointly deal with global challenges. It referred to the Sino-Russian-Indian spirit of “openness, solidarity, trust and cooperation” which can fight epidemics, and provide stability to the world,

Mr. Wang referred to the “democracy trap” and opposed the upcoming “Summit of Democracies” saying the summit will bring out “negative energy”. Sources here confirmed on Friday that Prime Minister Narendra Modi “is likely to attend” the Summit that will be chaired by U.S. President Joe Biden. China has been opposing the summit as the U.S. has invited the leadership of Taiwan to the event.

All three Foreign Ministers also called upon the Taliban to adhere to the recent meetings held under various mechanisms to stabilise the situation in Afghanistan.

“They called on the Taliban to take actions in accordance with the results of all the recently held international and regional formats of interaction on Afghanistan, including the UN Resolution on Afghanistan. Expressing concern over deteriorating humanitarian situation in Afghanistan, the Ministers called for immediate and unhindered humanitarian assistance to be provided to Afghanistan,” declared a Joint Communique which also called for “central role” of the United Nations in Afghanistan.

The virtual meeting also took note of the developments in Syria which has witnessed a diplomatic breakthrough with the visit of the Foreign Minister of the United Arab Emirates Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan to Damascus where he met Syrian President Bashar Al Assad. The Foreign Ministers called for a “Syrian led and Syrian owned” solution to the decade long conflict which has devastated Syria and caused waves of immigration out of the war-torn country.

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