The ‘Quad’ or the strategic quadrilateral grouping comprising India, US, Japan and Australia is very much on the agenda, its contours are being worked out.
In the past India has been reticent on the Quad, with its diplomats have been careful over how this Indo-Pacific grouping will be seen by its edgy neighbour, China or the old military ally, Russia.
US President Donald Trump, at a joint briefing with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on Februry 25 in New Delhi said:
“Together, the Prime Minister and I are revitalizing the Quad Initiative”.US President Donald Trump
“Since I took office, we have held the first Quad ministerial meeting — I guess you would call it a meeting, but it seems like so much more than that — and expanded cooperation on counterterrorism, cybersecurity, and maritime security to ensure a free and open Indo-Pacific”, the US President said at the event conducted after the two leaders had a bilateral meeting at ‘Hyderabad House’ a British-era building abutting the India gate.
Though Trump did not name it, he was possibly referring to the first-ever Ministers meet of the Quad countries on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in September 2019. Trump and his wife Melania were on two day visit to India (Feb24-25)
The official read out after that meeting had spoken about India’s role. “ (It) highlights India’s leadership in the Indo-Pacific region; In many ways US and India are now cooperating closely on shared strategic objectives,” an unnamed official of the US State department was quoted in the statement. Read full text here
The ministers meet had welcomed and supported India’s emergence as a net security provider in the region and India’s contributions were termed as vital to the safeguard a rules-based system in the Indo-Pacific.
“It reflects a shared commitment to uphold the rule of law, counterterrorism cooperation, freedom of navigation, democratic values, and economic growth,” the statement had said.
How the Quad will shape
The four countries are looking to institutionalize information sharing and have regular information sharing on infrastructure and development, advance efforts on maritime domain awareness. One of the key pillars will be open navigation and trade continues through the Indo-Pacific region.
On November 4, 2019, the officials of the Quad met again, this time in Bangkok and followed up with another meeting on November 12 at Manila where it was discussion focused on cooperation based on “converging vision and values for promotion of peace, stability and prosperity in the region.”. Read full text here
It was agreed to have 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.
Already on October 22, 2019, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at speech at the Heritage foundation said “Quad” between Japan, Australia, India and the United States would ensure that “China retains only its proper place in the world”.
Shinzo Abe had first spoken about it
The term ‘Asian Security Diamond’ was first proposed by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in December 2012. Read it here.
He had talked about a strategy involving Australia, India, Japan and the US to form a ‘diamond’ to safeguard the maritime commons stretching from the Indian Ocean region to the Pacific. The ‘new grouping’ emerged as India cemented relations with Japan and Australia besides getting close to the US.
India Japan and US even conduct joint exercises aimed at hunting submarines at sea.
India and US have 2+2 consultation involving the foreign and defence ministers. India and Japan have a similar construct and so does Indi have it with Australia.