Less than a month after a Quadrilateral meeting at the senior-officials level, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, US President Donald Trump and Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe met in a trilateral format and agreed that a “free, open, inclusive and rules-based” order is essential for peace and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific.
Tweeting after the meeting, Modi called it “historic”, while stressing India’s firm commitment towards making the Indo-Pacific a region for shared economic growth and common prosperity.
Asserting that they will “continue to work together on shared values,” he said, “When you look at the acronym of our three countries — Japan, America, and India — it is ‘JAI’, which stands for success in Hindi… JAI… trilateral marks the coming together of three friendly nations. Today’s historic JAI meeting was a great beginning. PM @AbeShinzo, @POTUS and I held fruitful talks aimed at furthering connectivity, maritime cooperation and a stable Indo-Pacific.”
Later, Abe said he was happy to be participating in “the first-ever ‘JAI’ meeting”.
The first trilateral meeting between the three leaders took place hours after a meeting between Modi, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping, on the sidelines of the G-20 Summit in Buenos Aires. India, China and Russia called for reforming multilateral institutions, including the UN and WTO, while underlining the benefits of a multilateral trading system and an open world economy.
The trilateral meeting between India, the US and Japan comes at a time when China is engaged in territorial disputes in the Indo-Pacific, including with Japan.
About his meeting with Trump and Abe, Modi said, “This is a very good occasion for the three countries — countries which have shared values, democratic values… We will continue to play a big role together for world peace, prosperity and stability.”
The PM articulated five action points to help promote peace and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region, and highlighted the importance of working jointly in areas such as connectivity, sustainable development, disaster relief, maritime security and unfettered mobility. And of building consensus on an architecture in the Indo-Pacific region based on principles of mutual benefit and respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity.
The Japanese premier hoped the trilateral would reinforce their partnership “towards realising a free and open Indo-Pacific”. “The three of us working together will bring more prosperity and more stability in the region, as well as globally.”
Appreciating “India’s growth story” during the meeting, Trump said, “The relationship between our three countries is extremely good and extremely strong… with India, maybe stronger than ever… We are doing very well together. We are doing a lot of trade together. We are doing a lot of defence together, a lot of military purchases.”
Earlier, at his keynote address at the Shangri La Dialogue in Singapore in June too, Modi had expounded India’s stand on the Indo-Pacific region. “India does not see the Indo-Pacific Region as a strategy or as a club of limited members. Nor as a grouping that seeks to dominate. And by no means do we consider it as directed against any country. A geographical definition, as such, cannot be,” he had said.
White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said in a statement that the trilateral summit “reaffirmed the importance of a free and open Indo-Pacific vision for global stability and prosperity”.
Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale described the trilateral meeting as “very good, very warm”. “They all agreed that a free, open, inclusive and rules-based order is essential for the region’s peace and prosperity. The Prime Minister offered some ideas on how we should take forward the concept of the Indo-Pacific, how the three countries can work together to promote this concept… The Prime Minister in particular felt that it was necessary for the three countries to reach out to all the stakeholders to explain the benefits of the Indo-Pacific strategy.”
The leaders also agreed on the central role of ASEAN, and agreed to synergise efforts towards maritime and connectivity issues, Gokhale said. “All three leaders felt that such meetings are useful and should continue on the margins of subsequent G-20 meetings.”
According to the Foreign Secretary, Trump and Abe also complimented Modi on his “reforms and development work”.