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SOURCE: PTI

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Saturday said he is confident that the relevance of the Quad grouping would grow and it would become a bigger factor in the larger regional, and beyond the region, politics and policy. His remarks came during a fireside chat with his Australian counterpart Penny Wong at the Indian Ocean Conference.

Mr Jaishankar is in Perth to attend the two-day conference. Speaking about the Quad or Quadrilateral Security Dialogue comprising India, the US, Japan and Australia, Mr Jaishankar said the grouping is the outcome of the changing capabilities of the major powers and the implications that it has for all of the world.

The Quad was set up in 2017 to counter China’s aggressive behaviour in the Indo-Pacific region.

“It also reflects three very important relationships for us with Australia, the US and Japan, which had transformed after the end of the Cold War,” Mr Jaishankar said.

These four countries are located at four corners of this maritime space and bring a certain perspective to the table, he said.

“I am sort of pretty confidently predict that the relevance of the Quad would grow and it would become a bigger factor in the larger regional and beyond the region politics and policy,” Mr Jaishankar added.

Mr Jaishankar also spoke about India’s partnership with Indian Ocean countries.

“The challenge today is to reconstruct and reconnect the Indian Ocean,” he said.

“You are going to see an India which will be much more deeply engaged in and much more deeply invested in the Indian Ocean…Our goal should be how to make the Indian Ocean more connected, more seamless and more penetrative than it is today as it has been in the past,” he said.

“I think they can actually patiently and respectfully reconstruct this region,” he said.

Talking about the bilateral ties with Australia, Mr Jaishankar said there is plenty of room to grow.

“I think we could be doing much more on the business side and on the economic side,” he said.

Mr Jaishankar said he is very “bullish” about the bilateral ties as there are great possibilities.

The kind of things that were achieved on the bilateral front in the last decade give reasons to be optimistic, he said.

Mr Jaishankar also visited Sailani Avenue in Perth named after Indian-origin soldier Nain Singh Sailani.

Records show that he worked as a “labourer” before joining the Australian Imperial Force in Perth on February 7, 1916.

Shimla-born Nain Singh was 43 when he was assigned as a soldier to the 44th Infantry Battalion of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (Anzac).

He was one of 12 known Anzacs from the Indian community who enlisted with the Australian Imperial Forces in 1916, and one of two who were killed in the Belgian campaign, an offensive campaign by Germany during the Second World War.

He is buried in Belgium, alongside fellow Australian soldiers who were killed in action and is the recipient of three medals including the British War Medal, the Victory Medal and the 1914/15 Star.

“Glad to meet some of our veterans and Indian community leaders there,” Mr Jaishankar posted on X.