Taking a veiled swipe at China, the United States, Australia, Japan and India agreed to ensure the Indo-Pacific region was free from “coercion”.
The foreign ministers of Quad, a group of India, Japan, Australia and the US, known as Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, met in Australia’s Melbourne to discuss climate change, COVID and regional cooperation, among other issues.
The top diplomats vowed to work on humanitarian relief, terrorism, cyber and maritime security and global supply chain challenges.
Although the Ukraine crisis was out of the group’s scope, the four leaders vowed to preserve the international rules-based order, as the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said, “That includes championing the rights of all countries to
choose their own path, free from coercion and the right to have their sovereignty and territorial integrity, respected. Whether that’s here in the Indo-Pacific, in Europe, or anywhere else in the world,” he said in his opening remarks of the meeting.”
India’s Minister of External Affairs Dr S Jaishankar, said since the last interaction of Quad foreign ministers meeting last February, the “geopolitical and geo-economic global scenario has become more complex.”
“As leading democracies, we pursue our shared vision of upholding a rules-based international order free from coercion, based on respect for territorial integrity, sovereignty, the rule of law, transparency, freedom of navigation in the international seas and peaceful resolution.”
Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne said the Quad’s cooperation on the region’s COVID response was “most critical”, with cyber and maritime security, infrastructure, climate action and disaster relief also in focus.
Payne also said Ukraine, China, and North Korea would also be discussed.
“More than one authoritarian regime is presenting itself in the current world climate as a challenge. DPRK (North Korea), China as well, and they will be part of our discussions today. We strongly support US leadership on these challenges,” she said before a bilateral meeting with Blinken.
The four countries have been holding annual naval exercises across the Indo-Pacific, a move that irks China. China has, in the past, denounced the Quad as a Cold War construct and a group “targeting other countries”.
Earlier today met Australian Defence Minister Peter Dutton as a follow up on the 2+2 discussions last year.
“Defence and security are key pillars of the India-Australia partnership,” he said on Twitter.
Dr S Jaishankar also addressed a gathering at the Australia India Institute in Melbourne emphasizing the ‘dramatically changing Australia-India relations.
“I speak to you on behalf of a country which has clearly moved up the global ladder… India-Australia relationship is now much closer – it is dramatically changing right in front of our eyes,” Dr Jaishankar said.
He also met the leader of opposition in Australia, Labor Party leader Anthony Albanese and Labor Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs Senator Penny Wong.