- Giving shape to their security cooperation under the proposed quadrilateral coalition, India, the US, Japan and Australia today held their first official- level talks to keep the Indo-Pacific region free, open and inclusive, a move that comes amid China’s growing military presence in the strategic area.
- Soon after the meeting, all the four countries issued separate statements listing Indo-Pacific as the major area of the their discussions and resolved to work towards upholding a rules-based order and ensuring respect for international law in the region.
- The meeting comes ahead of the ASEAN summit which is also likely to discuss the security challenges facing the Indo-Pacific region and China’s military expansion in the South China Sea.
- The formation of a quadrilateral security dialogue comprising India, the US, Australia and Japan was first mooted around 10 years back but it did not see light of the day.
- Japan’s Foreign Minister Taro Kono last month had said that Tokyo favours the quadrilateral dialogue to further boost strategic partnership among the four countries.
- Reacting to the Japanese move, India had said that it was open to working with like-minded countries on issues that advance its interests.
- The US had said it was looking at a “working-level” quadrilateral meeting in the near term with India, Japan and Australia.
- The US and Japan have been pushing for deeper Indian role in the Indo-Pacific region.
- The use of the term “Indo-Pacific” by Trump has led to speculation that it may have something to do with Washington preparing the ground for a revival of the Quadrilateral alliance between the US, Japan, Australia and India to counter China’s rise.