New Delhi: External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar Tuesday pitched for “territorial integrity, sovereignty and peaceful resolution of disputes” at the foreign ministers meeting of the Quad countries.
The Quadrilateral Security Dialogue or Quad countries — US, India, Australia and Japan — held their second round of consultations in Tokyo. These countries are also part of the larger Indo-Pacific construct. The last round took place in New York in September 2019.
“As vibrant and pluralistic democracies with shared values, our nations have collectively affirmed the importance of maintaining a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific. We remain committed to upholding the rules-based international order, underpinned by the rule of law, transparency, freedom of navigation in the international seas, respect for territorial integrity and sovereignty and peaceful resolution of disputes,” Jaishankar said during the meeting that comes amid a border stand-off between India and China at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh.
The Quad meeting was planned to be held in New Delhi but got cancelled later.
‘Like-minded countries should collaborate’
During the meeting, Jaishankar said the Covid pandemic has shown that it is important for “like-minded countries” to come together.
“The Covid-19 pandemic has brought about a profound transformation globally. The events of this year have clearly demonstrated how imperative it is for like-minded countries to coordinate responses to the various challenges that the pandemic has brought to the fore. As we collectively navigate these uncharted waters, we seek to emerge from the pandemic more resilient than ever before,” Jaishankar said.
Japan, which was the host country for the Quad consultations this time, said the Quad meeting was an assertion of the fact that like-minded countries should collaborate
“We agreed to cooperate with like-minded countries like US, Australia and India. It is important amongst us to cooperate on the free and open Indo-Pacific vision,” said Japanese foreign minister Motegi Toshimitsu at a press conference.
Marise Payne, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Australia, said the Quad will continue to work and deepen cooperation across all sectors — from maritime security to counterterrorism.
“Ministers agreed on the importance of strengthening the resilience of regional supply chains, key cyber-enabled systems and critical infrastructure. To this end, we emphasised the importance of quality infrastructure investment as a driver of strong, sustainable, balanced and inclusive economic growth, which will be critical to supporting the region’s economic recovery. Ministers also agreed to further strengthen cooperation with regional partners and institutions, including in the Mekong sub-region,” she said.
US says Covid pandemic made worse by CCP’s coverup
During the meeting, the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was the only foreign minister who mentioned China’s name explicitly.
“When we met, now last year, the landscape was very different. We couldn’t have imagined the pandemic that came from Wuhan. That crisis was made infinitely worse by the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) coverup. The regime’s authoritarian nature led its leaders to lock up and silence the very brave Chinese citizens who were raising the alarm,” he said.
China had vehemently criticised the meeting of Quad when it was announced last month and said multilateral and plurilateral cooperation “should all be open, inclusive and transparent. No one should seek an exclusive clique.”