Senior officials of India and three other member nations of 'Quad' grouping on Friday held talks on "practical" cooperation in areas like connectivity, infrastructure and security under a collective objective of promoting peace, stability and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region. The virtual meeting took place in the midst of growing global concern over China's expansionist behaviour in the Indo-Pacific region. The Quad or Quadrilateral coalition comprises India, the US, Japan and Australia.
The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said the officials reaffirmed their commitment towards a free, open, prosperous and inclusive Indo-Pacific region based on shared values and principles and respect for international law especially the UNCLOS (UN Convention on the Law of the Sea).
The meeting of the senior officials came over two months after foreign ministers of the Quad countries held crucial talks in Tokyo. 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 MEA said the officials exchanged views on regional and global issues of common interest. "They also reviewed ongoing and proposed practical cooperation in the areas of connectivity and infrastructure development, and security issues, including counter-terrorism, cyber security, maritime security, humanitarian and disaster relief, with the objective of promoting peace, security, stability and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region," it said.
In the context of the coronavirus pandemic, the officials underscored the importance of enhancing the resilience of supply chains for an expeditious and sustainable global economic recovery.
"They also highlighted the need to ensure safe, effective and affordable access to COVID-19 vaccines," the MEA said.
It said the officials reiterated their firm support for ASEAN-centrality and ASEAN-led mechanisms, particularly the leaders-led East Asia Summit, in the regional architecture for the Indo-Pacific. They also expressed readiness to work with ASEAN and all other countries towards realising a "common and promising" vision for the Indo-Pacific.
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) comprising 10 countries is a key stakeholder in the Indo-Pacific region. The MEA said the meeting provided an opportunity to follow up on the last such official level discussions in September, and the ministerial meeting of October 6 in Tokyo.
"They appreciated the Vietnamese chairmanship of the ASEAN and expressed satisfaction with the outcomes of the 15th East Asia Summit held in November this year," the MEA said.