Washington: China’s aggressiveness and the coercive nature in the resource-rich Indo-Pacific region is a frequent topic of discussion among the Quad nations, the Pentagon has said.
In November 2017, India, Japan, the US and Australia gave shape to the long-pending proposal of setting up the Quad to develop a new strategy to keep the critical sea routes in the Indo-Pacific free of any influence, amidst China’s growing military presence in the strategic region.
There are lots of outcomes to the Quad relationship. And they don’t all have to do with China. It’s not that the Quad exists simply to counter China or their influence, Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby told reporters on Thursday at a news conference here.
Now, obviously, what China’s doing in the Indo-Pacific region, the aggressiveness, the coercive nature with which they try to press their claims, certainly is a frequent topic of discussion with all our allies and partners, and certainly inside the Quad, he said.
What the Quad arrangement gives us is another terrific opportunity to work multilaterally on all kinds of initiatives that can help create what we really want here, which is a free and open Indo Pacific region. And there’s a lot that goes into that, and not all of it has to do with China, Kirby said.
Recently, on September 25, Prime Minister Narendra Modi along with his counterparts from Australia and Japan attended the first in-person meeting of Quad leaders hosted by US President Joe Biden.
India, the US and several other world powers have been talking about the need to ensure a free, open and thriving Indo-Pacific in the backdrop of China’s rising military manoeuvring in the region.
China claims nearly all of the disputed South China Sea, though Taiwan, the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam all claim parts of it. Beijing has built artificial islands and military installations in the South China Sea.
The US has been very honest about its concerns with Pakistan for a long time about the terrorist safe havens along with the border areas of Afghanistan, the Pentagon has said.
Afghanistan and the US have criticised Pakistan in the past for allowing Taliban fighters to cross into Pakistan where they are provided safe havens and also receive medical treatment.
We’ve been very honest about our concerns with Pakistan for a long time, about the safe havens that exist on their side of the border along that spine. And those concerns are still valid today, Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby told reporters on Thursday at a news conference.
As Afghanistan’s neighbour, Pakistan certainly has equities and responsibilities with respect to terrorism in that part of the world, Kirby said.
We continue to have candid conversations with Pakistani leaders about our concerns, he said in response to a question.
I think it’s important to continue to remind that the Pakistani people, likewise, have been rendered victim by terrorist threats that emanate from those groups and along that same border, he said.
While Kabul claims that Islamabad is sending thousands of militants to fight in the war-ravaged country and providing safe haven for the Taliban, Pakistan alleges that Afghanistan harbours the anti-Pakistani group Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan — the Pakistani Taliban — and also the secessionist Balochistan Liberation Army.
Kirby also told reporters that the United States is within its rights to continue drone strikes inside Afghanistan.
We believe we have the authorities that we need to continue to protect the nation, he said.
The Taliban has accused the US of violating the withdrawal agreement by continuing to fly drones over Afghanistan and warned Americans against doing that in the future.
We have the authorities that we need to continue to defend our interests and the security of the American people there and around the world, and we’re going to do that, Kirby said.
Over-the-horizon operations don’t always have to include unmanned aerial assets, and they don’t. That we use unmanned aerial assets clearly is true, and the Secretary (of Defence) cited one that was just a week or two ago in Syria. But over-the-horizon doesn’t have to mean unmanned. It doesn’t even always have to mean aviation, he said.
Over-the-horizon, as the Secretary defined it, means that the strike assets and the target analysis come from outside the country in which the operation occurs, and we can do that in a variety of means, he said. –PTI