Quad Foreign Ministers Resolve to Work Toward Free, Open Indo-Pacific
Image Courtesy: The Indian Express
New Delhi: The foreign ministers of the Quad grouping of India, the US, Australia and Japan on Friday vowed to work vigorously to achieve the grouping's shared vision of a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific and collectively deal with common threats such as terrorism.
External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi and Australia's Marise Payn held the talks in Melbourne.
At a joint media briefing after the talks, Payne said the Quad foreign ministers reaffirmed their support to principles of openness, protection of national sovereignty and observance of rules and fair play, in remarks seen as a message to China.
Jaishankar said the interactions made it evident that robust bilateral relations between the Quad countries, their strategic convergences and shared democratic values have all combined to make the Quad a vibrant and substantial framework.
"We are building an agenda which seeks to further our shared vision of a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific," Jaishankar said.
"We are keen to work together to further peace and stability and economic prosperity in the Indo-Pacific," he added.
Jaishankar said the meeting reviewed the Quad's ongoing efforts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic and agreed to expedite delivery of safe and affordable vaccines, support capacity building and augment infrastructure for last-mile delivery.
Ahead of their talks, Jaishankar, Blinken, Hayashi and Payne jointly called on Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
"A long and productive day in Melbourne. Just finished the 4th Quad Foreign Ministers' Meeting. Impressed by the progress we have made," Jaishankar said on Twitter.
In the meeting with the Quad foreign ministers, Morrison talked about the importance of the grouping in the context of current geopolitical developments.
"We live in a very fragile, fragmented and contested world, and that is no more accentuated than here in our Indo-Pacific, and the like-minded partners that we see gathered together in this Quad, I always find so incredibly reassuring," he said.
"I mean that in terms of our economic partnership and cooperation. I mean that in our humanitarian partnership. I mean that in terms of how each of us stands for a world order that favours freedom, and particularly here in a free and open Indo-Pacific. And I want to thank you for all of that," he said.
He said the Quad countries are working together on many shared projects and the partnership is not only about the traditional regional security issues.
It was the third in-person meeting of Quad foreign ministers, following their meeting in Tokyo in October 2020 and the inaugural meeting in New York in September 2019.
The ministers last held talks virtually in February last year.
Quad Doomed to Fail: China
In Beijing, Terming the Quad alliance between the US, India, Australia and Japan as a "tool" to contain China's rise, Beijing said that the grouping is a "deliberate move" to stoke confrontation and it is doomed to fail.
China, which has territorial disputes with many countries in the strategic Indo-Pacific region, has been opposing the Quad alliance since its formation.
In November 2017, the US, Australia, India and Japan 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, amid China's growing military presence in the strategic region.
“China believes that the Quad mechanism is only a tool to contain China,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told a media briefing here while responding to a question that Quad foreign ministers opened their talks in Melbourne, saying that the countries need to stand up those who seek to coerce them raising the long-term issue of China’s rising power.
“This is a deliberate move to stoke confrontation and undermine international solidarity and cooperation,” he said.
“I want to stress that the Cold War is long gone and any attempt to create an alliance as aimed containing China will not be popular and such moves are doomed to fail,” he said.
“Relevant countries should abandon the outdated Cold War mentality to correct their wrong practices of advancing bloc confrontation and geopolitical rivalry. Instead, they should play a constative role to promote peace and stability in the Asia Pacific region,” he said.
Ahead of the Quad Foreign Ministers meeting, Zhao said on Wednesday that China rejects creating exclusive cliques and inciting bloc confrontation.
"We hope the US and other countries concerned will grasp the trend of the times, adopt a proper mind-set and discard the Cold War mentality,” he said.
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