SOURCE: LIVE MINT
The second meeting of foriegn ministers of the so called “Quad” group of countries — Japan, US, Australia and India— is expected to be hosted by Tokyo in early October, the Japanese media reported on Sunday.
The Tokyo meet, the first took place in September in Washington, comes amid heightened tensions between India and China along their border in Ladakh.
Beijing has looked at the “Quad” which first crystallized as a grouping in November 2017 as an anti-China construct, aimed at containing it.
The deliberations among Japan’s Toshimitsu Motegi, the United States’ Mike Pompeo, Australia’s Marise Payne and India’s Subrahmanyam Jaishankar also comes as an aggressive China flexes its military muscles in the Indo-Pacific region.
On Sunday, China’s state-backed Global Times said Beijing would conduct “live-fire military exercises in the southern part of the Yellow Sea” this week. Tensions have been simmering in the South China Sea and the Straits of Taiwan, according to news reports.
According to the Japan Times, foriegn ministers of the US, India and Australia could also have a meeting with newly elected Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga after Shinzo Abe stepped down.
Abe is widely seen as the main architect of the “Quad” that took shape amid China’s growing influence in the Indo-Pacific region. Sharing the common values of democracy and the rule of law, the four countries aim to “enhance cooperation in the security and diplomatic fields,” the Japan Times report said.
“It would be the first face-to-face diplomatic occasion for Suga, who took office Wednesday (16 September),” the report said.
In the expected second meeting, the four foreign ministers “are likely to affirm their countries’ cooperation to realize the Free and Open Indo-Pacific vision” and “discuss ways to deal with China’s aggressive attitude in the medical field, including vaccine development,” the report said. It was a possible reference to China trying to push its covid-19 vaccines among countries.
“Especially in the coronavirus crisis, a meeting of the four countries’ foreign ministers would have great significance,” the report said quoting an unnamed Japanese government source.
The proposed meeting in Tokyo also comes amid major disagreements between the US and China on a whole host of subjects starting with trade and spanning the spread of the covid – 19 pandemic and human rights issues in Xinjiang.
Earlier this month, US deputy secretary of state Stephen Biegun had said that New Delhi could host the second “Quad meeting.” But Indian foriegn minister S Jaishankar had said that talks to fix a date and venue were going on without confirming that New Delhi would host the talks.
There was no immediate comment from New Delhi on the report.