Tribune News Service
New Delhi, February 18
The third Ministerial meeting of the Quad grouping was held in the virtual mode on Thursday at the initiative of the new Biden administration.
“The Quad is emerging as a critical piece of the Indo-Pacific’s geopolitical fabric. Great to see Secretary Blinken leading so early in the new administration,” said strategic analyst Abraham Denmark.
Blinken also touched base on the same day with his counterparts from France, Germany and the UK in a separate call to discuss shared global challenges. All these countries have also expressed interest in ensuring a rules-based approach to navigation in the Indo-Pacific. While France is active in the region, Germany and the UK intend to deploy naval assets in the region.
The four Foreign Ministers at the Quad meeting recognised that the changes underway in the world “make a strong case” for them to work closely together.
“It was important for the international community that the direction of changes remains positive and beneficial to all,” noted an Indian read-out of the virtual meeting which was attended by Foreign Ministers S. Jaishankar, Marise Payne (Australia), Toshimitsu Motegi (Japan) and Antony Blinken (the US).
Their discussions on regional issues included a reiteration of their common vision for a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific region, with clear support for ASEAN cohesion and centrality. “It was noted that the Indo-Pacific concept had gathered growing international support, including in Europe,” added the read-out.
The Ministers discussed ongoing efforts to combat the pandemic, including vaccination programmes. They also resolved to cooperate in addressing this challenge, enhancing access to affordable vaccines, medicines and medical equipment.
The Ministers exchanged views on responding to climate change and furthering cooperation in areas such as maritime security, HADR, supply chain resilience and counter-terrorism.
In the discussion pertaining to Myanmar, India reiterated the need to uphold the rule of law and democratic transition. “Noting that regular Quad consultations hold value, the Ministers agreed to continue these useful discussions,” said the MEA.
Meanwhile, Jaishankar will visit the two island nations of Maldives and Mauritius next week. In Maldives, he will review the entire gamut of bilateral ties as well as progress of ongoing bilateral projects and hold discussions on the ongoing pandemic situation.
During his visit to Mauritius, Jaishankar will call on the President Pritivirajsing Roopun and PM Pravind Jagnauth.
Both Maldives and Mauritius are India’s key maritime neighbors in the Indian Ocean region and occupy a special place in PM Modi’s vision of ‘SAGAR’ (Security and Growth for All in the Region).
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