New Delhi: Union External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar will be visiting Japan next month to participate in an informal meeting of the Quad, or Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, a multilateral grouping comprising India, the US, Japan and Australia.
Jaishankar’s visit to Tokyo from 6-7 October comes amid months-long tensions between India and China, whose aggressiveness in the South China Sea has been a matter of worry for the larger Indo-Pacific region.
This comes after a phone call between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his new Japanese counterpart Yoshihide Suga last week where both sides held an extensive discussion on the strengthening of strategic ties between India and Japan even as both countries decided to firmly stand up against China.
Suga, who replaced former PM Shinzo Abe on 16 September, also held a 30-minute phone call with Chinese President Xi Jinping on the same day.
During his visit to Tokyo next month, Jaishankar will be participating in a much-awaited meeting of the foreign ministers of the Quad countries. The Quad meeting was planned to be held in New Delhi but got cancelled.
An informal set-up of “like-minded democracies”, the Quad was proposed by former Japan Prime Minister Abe in order to check China’s growing assertion in the Indo-Pacific region, especially keeping in mind rising tensions in the South China Sea. The Quad aims to strengthen the defence and security cooperation among the four countries.
The last such meeting of the Quad foreign ministers was held in New York in September 2019.
‘A coordinated response to Covid-19’
The meeting of all the foreign ministers — US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Japanese Minister for Foreign Affairs Motegi Toshimitsu, Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne and Jaishankar — will take place on 6 October, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said in a statement.
“The foreign ministers shall discuss the post-Covid 19 international order and the need for a coordinated response to the various challenges emerging from the pandemic,” the MEA added. “They will also discuss regional issues and collectively affirm the importance of maintaining a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific.”
During the visit, Jaishankar will also be meeting Pompeo, Payne and Toshimitsu separately.
At his bilateral meeting with Japan’s Toshimitsu, both sides will “discuss bilateral and regional issues of mutual interest”, the MEA statement said.
Japan, India and Australia are also working out a separate ‘minilateral’ within the Indo-Pacific construct to work out a parallel supply chain network with trade and investment linkages, in order to bypass China.
India and Japan concluded the joint ‘Japan-India Maritime Exercise’ or JIMEX Monday with an eye on China. It was held in the North Arabian Sea. During the exercise, warships from both sides undertook anti-air and anti-submarine warfare exercises.