Published: Mon, November 13, 2017
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

Quadrilateral Coalition on the Indo-Pacific

Quadrilateral Coalition on the Indo-Pacific

Even as India, the USA and Japan have a trilateral dialogue mechanism in place for issues relating to the Indo-Pacific region, Japanese Foreign Minister Tara Kono said in October that Tokyo was for a top-level quadrilateral dialogue that would also include Australia.

The meeting was held as Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in Manila on Sunday on a three-day visit to the Philippines for the 15th India-Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) meet and the 12th East Asia Summit on Tuesday.

The dialogue is aimed at bolstering their influence over the region against China's expanding presence.

Beginning a new diplomatic initiative, India on Sunday participated in the first formal official-level discussions conducted here under the recently mooted regional coalition known as the "Quad", the quadrilateral formation that includes Japan, India, the United States and Australia.

The officials examined ways to achieve common goals and address shared challenges in the region.

During the meeting of officials, key issues of common interest in the "Indo-Pacific region" were discussed, with an eye on China and the aim reaching a common ground on a "free and open" Indo-Pacific - an apparent reference to freedom of navigation on the South China Sea. "Indo-Pacific" has grown in usage across diplomatic and security circles in Australia, India and Japan in recent years, shorthand for a broader and democratic-led region in place of the "Asia-Pacific", which to some places an authoritarian China too firmly at the centre.

The meeting also deliberated on enhancing cooperation in dealing with challenges of terrorism and talked about tackling proliferation threats, including North Korea's nuclear and missile programme. China also said the US-brokered proposal of these countries to ensure free and open "Indo-Pacific. should avoid politicising or excluding some relevant parties".

The US State Department stated that the officials had "examined ways to achieve common goals and address common challenges in the region, such as: upholding the rules-based order in the Indo-Pacific, including freedom of navigation and overflight, respect for worldwide law, and the peaceful resolution of disputes".

The participants committed to continuing quadrilateral discussions and deepening cooperation on the basis of shared values and principles.

Politicians, industry leaders and experts are also converging in India during December 11-14 for the Global Partnership Summit (GPS) to fine-tune and strategise on cooperation.

The four countries are working to revive their quadrilateral dialogue.

India was represented in the meeting by two MEA officials - joint secretary (East Asia) Pranay Verma, who handles India's relations with China, Japan, North Korea and South Korea, and joint secretary (South) Vinay Kumar, who handles Australia and Philippines among other countries in the region.

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