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ASEAN Summit: Eye on China as India joins quadrilateral with US, Australia & Japan

The last such meeting took place in 2007, after which Australia had quit such a dialogue mechanism. Chaired by Japanese officials, the meeting lasted over an hour and was attended by two MEA officials.

Written by Shubhajit Roy | Manila | Updated: November 13, 2017 5:24 am
Narendra Modi, PM Modi, ASEAN, MOdi in ASEAN, Manila, ASEAN Summit, Trump Modi meeting, 50 years of ASEAN, India News, Indian Express Prime Minister Narendra Modi with US President Donald Trump, Japanese Prime Shinzo Abe and other world leaders at an ASEAN Summit dinner in Manila on Sunday. (PTI Photo)

With an eye on China’s activities in the region, India on Sunday said that the first meeting of its officials in Manila with those from the US, Australia and Japan — described as the “quadrilateral” — 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 meeting, held a day before the ASEAN summit begins in the Philippines capital, also discussed the “common challenges of terrorism and proliferation linkages impacting the region”, according to the Ministry of External Affairs. Sources said India’s statement sought to connect the clandestine links between North Korea and Pakistan in the development of their nuclear programmes.

Also Read | PM Modi and Donald Trump will meet in Manila tomorrow, separate talks planned with each quadrilateral leader

Sunday’s discussions took place in a quiet meeting room at the luxurious Diamond hotel near the Manila airport, hours before Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Donald Trump landed in the afternoon. Modi and Trump met briefly during a “gala dinner” hosted by Philippines President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, and are expected to hold a structured bilateral meeting Monday.

The Prime Minister is also expected to meet his Australian and Japanese counterparts Malcolm Turnbull and Shinzo Abe in separate bilateral meetings, reflecting a sense of solidarity among leaders of the “quadrilateral”.

See Photos | PM Modi meets world leaders at gala dinner in Manila, shakes hand with Donald Trump

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. The officials also discussed North Korea, according to statements issued by the Japanese and the Australians.

The last such meeting took place in 2007, after which Australia had quit such a dialogue mechanism. Chaired by Japanese officials, the meeting lasted over an hour and was attended 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.

The Indian statement struck a cautious note, with the MEA noting that the discussions focused on cooperation based on “converging vision and values for the promotion of peace, stability and prosperity in an increasingly inter-connected region that they share with each other and with other partners”. The Indian side “highlighted India’s Act East Policy as the cornerstone of its engagement in the Indo-Pacific region”, placing focus on the role of ASEAN and Southeast Asia.

Also Read | PM Modi attends gala dinner at ASEAN, meets US President, Chinese Premier

Japan’s foreign ministry said they discussed measures to ensure a “free and open international order based on the rule of law in the Indo-Pacific”. It said that the participants discussed the direction for cooperation, including with countries in the region, in “upholding the rules-based order” and “respect for international law” in the Indo-Pacific.

Also part of the discussions, said Japan, were proliferation threats, “including North Korea’s nuclear and missile issues, against which maximized pressure needs to be applied, ensuring freedom of navigation and maritime security in the Indo-Pacific, and countering terrorism and other issues”. The Australian foreign ministry said that they shared the vision for increased prosperity and security in the Indo-Pacific region and to work together to ensure it “remains free and open”.

“The officials examined ways to achieve common goals and address shared challenges in the region. This includes upholding the rules-based order in the Indo-Pacific and respect for international law, freedom of navigation and overflight; increase connectivity; coordinate on efforts to address the challenges of countering terrorism and upholding maritime security in the Indo-Pacific,” the Australian statement said, directly pointing to Chinese activities in the South China Sea. Canberra’s statement also named North Korea and said that officials agreed to work together to address threats to international peace and security posed by the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, including the DPRK’s nuclear and missile programmes.

The Australian statement indicated that this was the first of such discussions. “The participants committed to continuing quadrilateral discussions and deepening cooperation on the basis of shared values and principles,” it said.

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  1. Sankaran Krishnan
    Nov 13, 2017 at 8:34 am
    Each Country knows very well that China is not an trusted ally that includes the Terror Nation Pakistan but are forced to accept them or else the Country will be alienated which is the root cause for other Countries to force such relationship that will make China on their toes. The reason for any Country to have a good tie-up with India is its huge market potential to sell their Country products and also India irrespective of the party that rules/governs always an trusted one and till now continues to do business with them is the real success for us !!!
    1. M
      Nov 13, 2017 at 2:47 am
      Should India buy into Tumps war? The Middle East, Pakistan bought into the American war. Leason-learn for India. It is expected that readers in 22nd century should be educated enough to read in between the line of the news or books. Nothing is free lunch anyone. The writer is a paid or s alaried writer. Writer is doing his/her job. He/She is asked by the employer to script the news. Someone is paying for this scripts/news. One doesn’t need to be a rocket scientist to understand WHO could pay for this scripts/news. Just ask yourself who looks like the HERO in this scripts/news? Obviously, the HERO is paying to writer or Pandits to scripts the news for him. The Media owners are also doing business for money or profit. Medias are not doing any charity to citizens or voters here in the democratic system. Someone is paying to Media owners because Indian voters are readers of this news media. This is our job to understand the motive of this conspiration theory of the politician.
      1. D
        Dacid Malcolm
        Nov 13, 2017 at 2:40 am
        Shri Narender Modi is a great vision for India, taking the Indians to 22 nd century. Having ties with USA, AUSTRALIA AND JAPAN will be excellent for India's economy and foreign policy to contain rogue nations including China
        1. M
          Nov 13, 2017 at 2:24 am
          The Congress-ISI funded trolls flooding IE Forums spoil serious discussions of issues. Look, how Modiji has changed the Strategic Equation in Asia within three years. He delivers on whatever he tells the Americans, Japanese and Australians. He communicates clearly the ways he can commit India's Defence Forces, whether it is patrolling the Indian Ocean or helping Vietnam modernise some of her ships. Modiji avoid rhetoric of the old Congress Ministers used to throw at World leaders. A pragmatic leader who has won the respect of the major powers of the World - respect for INDIA.
          1. T
            Nov 13, 2017 at 4:00 am
            Don’t crib about trolls, because Feku and his Bhakts started this business........Now that others are catching up, they are getting beaten in their own games !!!
            1. K
              Nov 13, 2017 at 5:19 am
              1. G
                George Cruz
                Nov 13, 2017 at 6:12 am
                Murthy, you are 100 correct. Its obvious that communist China is big bear to handle single handedly by India and Modi is doing an excellent strategy of countering China by taming up with US/EU as well as Australia, Japan, Vietnam, and Philippines. Most of the brainwashed/illiterate ic Muslims like Truth, Kalputhra, Blackpower, etc are really anti-nationals and write vulgar/bogus worthless comments in this forum.
              2. M
                Nov 13, 2017 at 1:48 am
                Should India buy into Trump's war?
                1. M
                  Nov 13, 2017 at 2:15 am
                  No, but the Only War Measures in SCSea, such as building Artificial Islands with Runways, Barracks and Pill Boxes have been done by China. What do you say to that?? These islands were never in China's control at any earlier times. Some islands come within the Economic Zone of Vietnam and Philippines.
                  1. M
                    Nov 13, 2017 at 2:34 am
                    The Middle East, Pakistan bought into the American war. Leason-learn for India.
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