External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Tuesday held talks with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Tokyo, focusing on key bilateral and regional issues and resolving to work together to advance peace and security in the Indo-Pacific and around the globe. Jaishankar and Pompeo are in Tokyo to attend a ministerial meeting of the Quad or Quadrilateral coalition comprising India, the US, Australia and Japan.
It is learnt that both Jaishankar and Pompeo apprised each other about all major issues including security-related concerns in their first face-to-face meeting in seven months though they held a number of telephonic conversations during the period. “Began my Tokyo visit with a bilateral meeting with @SecPompeo. Pleased to see the progress of our partnership in so many fields. Will work together for stability and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific," Jaishankar tweeted.
It is understood that India’s festering row with China in eastern Ladakh figured in the meeting. However, there is no official confirmation about it. A readout by the US State Department said Pompeo and Jaishankar discussed ongoing bilateral and multilateral cooperation on topics of international concern, and looked forward to the US-India two-plus-two ministerial dialogue later this year. “They reaffirmed the strength of the United States-India relationship, reviewed our efforts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, and asserted the need to work together to advance peace, prosperity, and security in the Indo-Pacific and around the globe," it said.
It said both Pompeo and Jaishankar agreed to continue close cooperation on a full range of regional and international issues.
Had a great dinner with my counterparts Foreign Ministers @moteging, @DrSJaishankar, and @MarisePayne. FM Motegi has been a gracious host! Meetings like this will help the members of the U.S.-India-Australia-Japan Quad realize our shared goals for the Indo-Pacific region. pic.twitter.com/gOXNaU4lk7— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) October 6, 2020
The external affairs minister also called on Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga along with his counterparts from the US, Japan and Australia. About the meeting with Suga, the external affairs minister said he mentioned the bilateral and global dimensions of special partnership between the two countries. “Called on PM @sugawitter along with other Quad Foreign Ministers. Spoke about the bilateral and global dimensions of our special partnership," he said.
The meeting between Jaishankar and Pompeo comes at a time both India and the US are at loggerheads with China. While India’s ties with China have come under severe strain over the five-month border standoff in eastern Ladakh, the relationship between Beijing and Washington nosedived over trade dispute, the coronavirus pandemic and China’s military offensive in South China Sea.
It is learnt that Jaishankar and Pompeo also deliberated on overall ties including evolving security scenario around India. In November 2017, the four countries 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.
The first meeting of foreign ministers of the four countries under the ‘Quad’ framework had taken place in New York in September 2019. The second ministerial meeting of the Quadrilateral coalition on Tuesday is expected to collectively affirm the importance of a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific in the backdrop of growing Chinese assertiveness in the region.
Last week, the Ministry of External Affairs said the meeting of the foreign ministers of the four countries is expected to collectively affirm the importance of a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific. During his two-day visit to Tokyo, Jaishankar will also hold talks with his Japanese counterpart Toshimitsu Motegi and Australian foreign minister Marise Payne India is also expanding bilateral cooperation with Japan, the US and Australia in the Indo-Pacific region.
The US has been pushing for a greater role for India in the Indo-Pacific which is seen by many countries as an effort to contain China’s growing clout in the region.