India, US, Japan and Australia begin talks on China’s growing military presence in the Indo-Pacific region
India, the US, Japan and Australia held their first official-level talks on Sunday to keep the Indo-Pacific region free, open and inclusive. The talks come against a backdrop of China’s growing military presence in the strategically important area.
On Tuesday leaders convene for the ASEAN summit to discuss the security challenges facing the Indo-Pacific region and China’s military expansion in the South China Sea.In a statement, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said the consultations were held on issues of common interest in the Indo-Pacific region with a focus on cooperation based on converging vision and values for promotion of peace, stability and prosperity in the area.
During the meeting leaders also discussed the common challenges of terrorism and proliferation linkages impacting the region.
The MEA said the Indian side highlighted India’s ‘Act East Policy’ as the cornerstone of its engagement in the Indo-Pacific region.
The meeting also deliberated on enhancing cooperation in dealing with challenges of terrorism and talked about tackling proliferation threats, including North Korea.
Modi is scheduled to have a bilateral meeting with Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Monday and the security scenario in the Indo-Pacific region may figure in the meetings.
Modi will also be hosted by President Duterte of Philippines for a bilateral meeting on November 13.
Modi will be accompanied by national security adviser Ajit Doval, foreign secretary S Jaishankar among other officials who handle specific divisions and countries related to ASEAN and East Asia Summit.
Modi will also participate in the ASEAN Business and Investment Summit which ‘will boost the close cooperation to enhance trade ties with ASEAN member states, which constitutes a significant 10.85 per cent of our overall trade’, said the PM in his statement.
He then added that he was looking towards connecting with the Indian community in the Philippines.
On Monday, he will participate in the opening ceremony of the 31st ASEAN Summit.
He will also visit the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and Mahavir Philippines Foundation Inc. (MPFI).
‘A large number of Indian scientists are working in IRRI and contributing to R&D in this field. My Cabinet approved on July 12, 2017, a proposal for IRRI to set up its South Asia Regional Centre at Varanasi.
‘This will be the first Research Centre by IRRI outside its headquarters in the Philippines,’ Modi said.
Secretary East in the ministry of external affairs, Preeti Saran, said, ‘The Mahavir Philippines Foundation on the other hand is an associate centre of Bhagwan Mahavir Viklang Sahayata Samiti based in Jaipur.’
It is a non-profit philanthropic organisation, which has been set up by eminent Filipinos and Indian expat community and has distributed free ‘Jaipur Foot’ to needy amputees.
‘PM will visit this to demonstrate India’s support to this very important charitable activity.’
While there are going to be significant bilateral on the sidelines of the summit, the Modi-Trump meeting is also crucial because it comes right after Trump’s visit to China and the support that the US has extended to China’s Belt and Road Initiative — a move that India considers counter productive to the transparency and equality in growth of the region.