Controlling the Indo-Pacific: India, US, Japan Australia resurrect quadrilateral dialogue

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The term Indo-Pacific gained currency recently, with its usage growing across diplomatic and security circles in US, Australia, India and Japan. The meeting was held a day before the ASEAN Summit. China says it is simply a development project for common prosperity that any country is welcome to join.

Officials from India, Australia, the United States and Japan met here today and discussed issues relating to cooperation the Indo-Pacific region, seen as a first move to set up a quadrilateral grouping to pursue common interests amidst growing assertiveness by the Chinese military in the strategically key region.

The emerging quadrilateral is seen to counter China's aggressive maritime expansion under its Belt and Road initiative.

On Sunday, meeting between the officials of the four countries which form the Quadrilateral dialogue partners agreed that a "free, open, prosperous and inclusive Indo-Pacific region serves the long-term interests of all countries in the region and of the world at large".

In addition, the meeting also discussed the "common challenges of terrorism and proliferation linkages impacting the region", according to the Ministry of External Affairs.

The US and Japan have been pushing for a deeper Indian role in the strategically key Indo-Pacific region.

India needed the help of U.S. and other countries to highlight the threat it faced from Pakistan-based terrorist outfits, said Lalit Mansingh, a former foreign secretary. "We talk about "Indo- Pacific" in part because that phrase captures the importance of India's rise".

Japan on Sunday held the first formal deliberations giving a booster to the new block created essentially to counter China " s growing influence - at the regional level and also globally".

Trump and his officials used the term repeatedly through his five-nation tour that concludes in Manila.

Responding to a question about persistent references of Indo-Pacific by the US and Japan saying that they want to establish leaders' dialogue mechanism between India, US, Japan and Australia and Tokyo's willingness to conduct cooperation with China under the new concept, Geng said China has noted the Japanese statement in this regard.

"And this persuasive approach is needed to bring the world's attention to the issue of cross-border terrorism and safe havens for terrorists that threat regional peace and stability in the region", India's former envoy to the U.S. said.

Geng said China hoped "policies made and actions taken by relevant parties can correspond with the trend of the times, featuring peace, cooperation, friendship and development and be conducive to upholding regional peace, prosperity and stability".

"I think all relevant parties can put forward their vision and proposal on how to develop cooperation between the countries and regions".

In a measured reaction, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said that in Beijing's view "whether the region is [called] Asia-Pacific or Indo-Pacific, it should correspond with the trend of the times and the trend of the world".

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