In the backdrop of the corona pandemic, one of the most important and high-level meetings in the region took place in Tokyo on Tuesday.
The Second India-Australia-Japan-USA Ministerial Meeting underscored the collective visions of the quad on maintaining a free, open, and inclusive Indo-Pacific. External Affairs Minister S Jaishakar was leading the Indian Delegation in the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue known as QUAD. The meeting which was being hosted by Japan’s Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi was also attended by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne.
The Foreign Ministers of QUAD exchanged views about regional issues of mutual interest, and issues related to connectivity; humanitarian assistance and disaster relief; maritime safety and security; health security, and counterterrorism. They reiterated their firm support to ASEAN centrality and highlighted their readiness to work towards realizing a common vision for the Indo-Pacific. Appreciating the value of these consultations, they agreed to hold them regularly.
Underlining the significance of the meeting EAM, while addressing the Quad consultation said that the world is significantly different today than what it was last year when the first QUAD ministerial-level meeting had happened in New York on the sidelines of UN General Assembly Meetings. In this context, he further expressed commitment to “Upholding the rules-based international order, underpinned by the rule of law, transparency, freedom of navigation in the international seas, respect for territorial integrity and sovereignty and peaceful resolution of disputes.” He also added that the objective of the forums remains “Advancing the security and the economic interests of all countries having legitimate and vital interests in the region.”
The quad group has gained significant support in the region especially among the countries which have been concerned with the growing clout of China but did not have enough means and strength to counter its incursive policies in the region.
US Secretary of State while putting the blame squarely on China for the Corona pandemic said that the world couldn’t have imagined the “Pandemic that came from Wuhan.” He said that the crisis was made infinitely worse by the Chinese Communist Party’s cover-up, as China’s “Authoritarian nature led its leaders to lock up and silence the very brave Chinese citizens who were raising the alarm.”
Pompeo also referred to the ongoing border standoff between India and China while calling upon the others QUAD members to collaborate to “Protect our people and partners from the CCP’s exploitation, corruption, and coercion” that has been seen in the south, in the East China Sea, the Mekong, the Himalayas, the Taiwan Straits.”
Australian Foreign Minister Payne highlighted the QUAD forum as a Diplomatic network that assists us as democracies to align ourselves in support of shared interests.”Advocating the rule of law in international order Payne said “We believe in a region governed by rules, not power. We believe in the fundamental importance of individual rights and in a region which – in which disputes are resolved according to international law. And we believe in regional security and recovery from COVID-19 that supports sovereign choices for the countries of the Indo-Pacific.
The grouping has also focused on important issues such as connectivity and infrastructure development, security including counter-terrorism; cyber and maritime security; and the stability and prosperity in the region.
Earlier in the day, EAM also held a bilateral meeting with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and talked about the progress of the INDIA-US partnership in various fields. The two sides also discussed working together for stability and prosperity in the Indo- Pacific.
A US State Department release said that the two ministers “Reaffirmed the strength of the United States-India relationship, reviewed our efforts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, and asserted the need to work together to advance peace, prosperity, and security in the Indo-Pacific and around the globe”. India and the US are also going to hold the U.S.-India 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue later this year. Jaishakar is expected to meet his Japanese and Australian Counterparts on Wednesday.
Before the QUAD meeting began, EAM along with the other Quad Foreign Ministers also called on newly appointed Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and discussed the bilateral and global dimensions of the special partnership.