Quad working on positive and constructive agenda: India
The Quad leaders are expected to deliberate on the challenges and opportunities in the Indo-Pacific besides focusing on post-Covid recovery, health security, sustainable infrastructure and resilient supply chains at their summit talks in Tokyo on May 24, Foreign Secretary Vinay Mohan Kwatra said on Saturday.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is visiting Japan on May 23 and 24 to attend the summit that is taking place under the shadow of the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
At a media briefing on Modi's visit to Japan, Kwatra said the world community and India's partners have shown complete understanding and appreciation for New Delhi's position on the conflict.
The foreign secretary said right from the time when hostilities began, India called for an immediate cessation of hostilities and has been maintaining that dialogue remained the best policy to resolve it. He said the Quad leaders are expected to deliberate on the vision for a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific and that they would take stock of the progress made so far under the framework of the coalition and give guidance for the future.
Asked whether China's aggressive behaviour in the Indo-Pacific as well as along its border with India would figure in the Quad summit, Kwatra said the leaders are expected to deliberate on "challenges and opportunities" in the region in accordance with the agenda of the deliberations.
"Quad cooperation is anchored in the shared values and commitment to the principles of democracy, international law, rules-based international order as also the vision of a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific," Kwatra said.
"Since its first summit, Quad has been working to implement a positive and constructive agenda with a strong focus on enabling peace, prosperity and stability in the Indo-Pacific region," he said.
Apart from participating in the Quad summit, Modi would also hold bilateral meetings with US President Joe Biden, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and Anthony Albanese, who is set to become the next Australian prime minister after leading his Labor Party to its first election victory in almost a decade.
Modi will also engage with the Japanese business community and the Indian diaspora. Referring to Quad's agenda, the foreign secretary said cooperation efforts under Quad have also included working together on climate action.
He said it involves creating a decarbonised green shipping network in the Indo-Pacific, making use of clean hydrogen and making it more accessible, besides pooling capacities to assist Indo-Pacific countries in climate monitoring, and information-sharing.
Kwatra said the Quad's Infrastructure Coordination Group has been deliberating on supporting sustainable and demand-driven infrastructure in the region in a manner that does not burden countries of the region with unsustainable debt.
He said cooperation on critical and emerging technologies, biotechnology, diversification of semiconductors supply chain, and security of critical cyber infrastructure are other key priority areas of our cooperative measures in the Quad.
The Quad is also organising a special session on the sidelines of the World Health Assembly on promoting vaccine confidence and fighting the infodemic on May 24. Asked whether Quad has a security dimension, the foreign secretary did not give a direct reply but said it is important to understand the context of the functioning of the grouping.
"What we need to keep in mind is that Quad is a group of countries that share the core values of democracy, pluralism and market economy. Quad's cooperation is shaped principally by the goals of promoting peace, stability and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific," he said.
To a question, Kwatra said that there is no conversation going on over further expansion of Quad. On Modi's bilateral meeting with Biden, the foreign secretary said the India-US relationship is multifaceted and it has acquired momentum and has depth and is diversified.
"Our long-standing cooperation in diverse areas ranging from trade, defence, security, climate and education energy is on an upward trajectory. There is a regular exchange of visits and dialogue not just on the bilateral agenda, but also on regional and global issues," Kwatra said.
"The prime minister's meeting with Biden will mark a continuation of these high-level dialogues and provide guidance and vision to take the relationship forward," he added.
The foreign secretary said Modi will also meet Kishida. "Japan is among our most important partners. Modi has referred to the India-Japan relationship as being one of the most natural in the region. In the last few years, the India-Japan Special Strategic and Global Partnership have seen great momentum," Kwatra said.
"The meeting will be an opportunity to carry forward the high-level engagement between the two countries, as also to advance bilateral cooperation agenda," he said.
On Modi's planned bilateral meeting with his Australian counterpart, Kwatra referred to the general elections in Australia. "We understand that the next Australian prime minister is likely to attend the Quad Summit. It is expected that the prime minister will meet the new Australian prime minister in Tokyo," he said.