Updated: October 28, 2017 7:07:50 am
The government said it was “open to working with like-minded” countries on issues that advance its interests and promote its viewpoint, a day after Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono said his country would propose top-level dialogue with the US, India and Australia. Friday’s statement is the first official confirmation on the proposed quadrilateral meeting, which was held in 2006 but did not happen again.
Responding to a question on the Japanese Foreign Minister’s proposal for the quadrilateral, Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said: “India is open to working with like-minded countries on issues that advance our interests and promote our viewpoint. We are not rigid in this regard.”
Reading out from a prepared statement, Kumar said: “Because of our broad acceptability as a country, there are a number of such initiatives, which are trilateral in nature. For example, we did the trilateral meeting with Russia and China on the topic of Asia-Pacific last year. We also do an India-Sri Lanka-Maldives trilateral on security matters. We have been doing India-US-Japan for many years and recently India-Japan-Australia. We also have India-Afghanistan-Iran and we are looking to hold the India-US-Afghanistan meeting. All these meetings are conducted at various levels.”
He added: “As far as we are concerned, we have an open mind to cooperate with countries with convergence but obviously on an agenda which is relevant to us.” The Japanese move is believed to be aimed at countering China’s aggressive maritime expansion under its Belt and Road Initiative.
On Thursday, Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar had indicated Delhi’s willingness to engage with the quadrilateral idea. “We are interested in working with nations whose broad goals are aligned with us. Japan is one such nation,” he had said. This indicated India’s positive attitude towards the “quadrilateral idea”, which was mooted by US officials earlier.
Ahead of Tillerson’s visit on October 24, discussions on the quadrilateral group — India, US, Japan and Australia — had picked up in preparatory meetings between the two sides, as reported by The Indian Express on October 21. Abe will officially propose the dialogue partnership to Trump during their bilateral meeting on November 6.
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