SEVEN MONTHS after India participated in the revived quadrilateral meeting in Manila, New Delhi will participate in the second round of the meeting with officials from US, Japan and Australia on Thursday. The meeting will take place in Singapore on the sidelines of the Senior Officials’ meeting (SOM) on ASEAN.
The ASEAN SOM is the opening event for a string of meetings within the ASEAN, ASEAN Plus 3, East Asia Summit and the ASEAN Regional Forum that are taking place from June 5-7.
Sources said that since officials from all four countries were present at the venue, the opportunity was seized upon by participating countries to schedule the quadrilateral meeting.
Sources said India agreed to pencil in the meeting in its schedule, just ahead of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit in Qingdao on June 9 and 10.
While Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be attending the SCO summit which was being widely perceived as taking part in a China-Russia-dominated grouping, New Delhi’s participation in the quadrilateral meeting reinforces India’s commitment to the quadrilateral grouping.
Sources also pointed out that while Modi did not mention quadrilateral in his speech at the Shangri-La dialogue last week in Singapore — raising some eyebrows — India’s participation gives a strong signal about its willingness to be a part of the grouping, aimed at countering Chinese assertiveness in Indo-Pacific region.
“This is also a testament to our strong position on the Indo-Pacific maritime strategy, and over the last year or so we have weaved in the strategy with several of our strategic partners,” a source told The Indian Express.
“We are going to have the meeting at the working level, at the joint secretary-level, like we had in Manila in November last year, on the sidelines of the ASEAN summit,” the source said.
Last November, after the quadrilateral meeting in Manila, all four countries issued separate statements, displaying lack of congruence in their approach.