Quad (Australia, India, Japan, USA)
This is a collection of articles archived for the excellence of their content.
Australia, India: give time, space to Quad to evolve
Ahead of the latest biennial iteration of India-Australia AUSINDEX naval exercise, Australia has sounded a cautionary note on the Quad consultative mechanism involving India, Japan and the US apart from Australia. Australian diplomatic sources here said pushing the Quad ``too forward and too fast’’ could diminish returns from bilateral and multilateral engagements among the countries involved.
The remark is a vindication of India’s position that the Quad mechanism be held at the level of officials only despite pressure from the US to upgrade it to the ministerial level. After a decade-long interregnum, Quad was revived in 2017 but has so far remained limited to diplomatic consultations with India reluctant to hold regular military contacts among the 4 ``like-minded’’ democracies in the Indo-Pacific.
``We need to give time and space to Quad for it to evolve,’’ said an Australian diplomatic source on the condition of anonymity.
India has not been in favour of upgrading Quad, or having regular quadrilateral military exchanges, for the fear of annoying China which sees Quad as an instrument of containment. The government has worked overtime to improve relations with China since the 2017 Doklam standoff and so far, even after China yet again blocked designation of Pakistan based terrorist Masood Azhar as a global terrorist, there is no indication of any review of India’s position on relations with Beijing.
Australian sources also said that India’s reluctance to involve Australia in the trilateral Malabar exercise, which India carries out with the US and Japan, will not act as an impediment to security and maritime cooperation between the 2 countries.
``That Australia is not participating in the Malabar distracts attention from a lot that is happening bilaterally between the 2 countries. We are already participating in bilateral and multilateral exercises and the AUSINDEX this year will see the largest deployment of Australian navy personnel in the region since India’s independence,’’ said a source.
The US Indo-Pacific Command head, Admiral Phil Davidson, was recently quoted as having said that Quad could be shelved for now. A Pentagon spokesperson clarified the next day though that Quad will continue to meet to ``coordinate our respective visions of and efforts in the Indo-Pacific region’’. The spokesperson added that Davidson only meant regular and formal meetings of ``military leaders’’ when he made his remark. Davidson had quoted Indian navy chief Admiral Sunil Lanba as having ``made it quite clear that there wasn't an immediate potential for a quad."
The AUSINDEX this year will be held as a part of Australia’s Indo-Pacific Endeavour 2019 which will see Australia conducting naval exercises with 7 countries in south and southeast Asia apparently to increase its profile as a security provider in the Indian Ocean.
The AUSINDEX 2019 will see participation of long-range frigate HMAS Parramatta capable of air defence, surface and undersea warfare, surveillance, reconnaissance and interdiction. Also participating will be HMAS Newcastle, one of Royal Australian Navy’s four Adelaide Class Guided Missile Frigates (FFG), which can counter simultaneous threats from aircraft, surface vessels and submarines.
Oct: First meeting
India, Israel, the UAE and the US sat down for their first “quadrilateral” meeting, opening the way to a new geopolitical equation with closer cooperation on trade, technology, Big Data and maritime security in a region that has been volatile and riven with deep fault lines.
“A fruitful first meeting with Israeli APM and FM@- YairLapid, UAE FM@ABZayed and US Secretary of State @SecBlinken this evening,” foreign minister Jaishankar tweeted after the meeting.
The new grouping is described as an international forum for economic cooperation. The focus areas, according to official readouts of the participating countries, will be trade, technology cooperation, Big Data and maritime security, with the objective to generate synergies that go beyond government-level cooperation.
Israel’s foreign minister Yair Lapid and Jaishankar joined the meeting from Jerusalem, while the others attended virtually from their countries.
Lapid was quoted saying later, “Around this virtual table, there is a unique set of capabilities, knowledge and experience that can be used to create the network that we all want to see created.”
“I think the word we’re looking for here is synergy, because this is what we’re going to try and create starting with this meeting. Synergy that will help us work together on infrastructure, digital infrastructure, transport, maritime security and other things that preoccupy us all... The key to success is how quickly can we move from ‘government-to-government’ to ‘business-tobusiness’,” he added.
Jaishankar said, “Discussed working together more closely on economic growth and global issues. Agreed on expeditious follow-up.” In his brief comment, he said, “The three of you are among the closest relationships we have, if not the closest.” He added, “I think it is very clear that on the big issues of our times we all think very similarly and what would be helpful would be if we could agree on some practical things to work upon.”
The group discussed the possibility of working together on joint infrastructure projects. The meeting also deliberated on each country appointing a senior level bureaucrat to be part of a joint working group to materialise these decisions. All four ministers promised to meet in person during the Dubai Expo in the coming months.
US state department spokesperson Ned Price in a statement said Blinken and his three counterparts discussed expanding economic and political cooperation in West Asia and Asia. “Blinken and the ministers also discussed people to people ties in technology and science, and how to support global public health in relation to the Covid-19 pandemic,” the statement said.
In his remarks, Blinken described Israel, the UAE and India as three of “our most strategic partners” and said that by “bringing friends together in new ways, we are making these partnerships even greater than the sum of their parts”.
Blinken added: “I think that is what this gathering is about. Sitting here in Washington I can say very simply that with Israel, the UAE and India we have three of our most strategic partners. And given so many overlapping interests — energy, climate, trade, regional security — this seems like a really good idea to try and use this new format.”