US Vice President Mike Pence on Monday reiterated his country’s support to India for a “free and open Indo-Pacific” while Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun said an “in-person” ministerial meeting of the Quad grouping would be held in New Delhi in the coming weeks.
Their comments came at a virtual session organised by US-India Strategic Partnership Forum, a think tank, where External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said India is very “cognizant of the rise of China”, and that it is “very important” that India and China reach some kind of “understanding or equilibrium between them”.
During the session, Pence described US President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Narendra Modi as “larger than life figures”. The US “will continue to stand firm with allies such as India… (will) take all steps with our allies to ensure a free and open Indo-Pacific,” he said.
The Quad grouping comprises US, India, Japan and Australia. A Quad Foreign ministers’ meeting had taken place in New York on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in September 2019.
Deputy secretary Biegun underlined that the Quad grouping is one of democracies, of Pacific powers, of countries integrated into regional frameworks and of countries that have cooperated on Covid-19, supply chain resiliency and countering Chinese disinformation. It has helped India find its place in the Indo-Pacific, he said.
“Our strategy is to push back against China in virtually every domain,” he said, citing Galwan Valley, the South Pacific, US-China trade relationship, among others.
Jaishankar said, “We are an immediate neighbour of China. So obviously, if you are a neighbour, you are very directly impacted by the rise of… a potential global power… So, if you have two countries, two societies — a billion people each — with the history and culture they have. It’s very important they reach some kind of understanding or equilibrium…”