World, Asia - Pacific

Quad leaders unveil maritime initiative on ‘free, open Indo-Pacific’

Leaders of 4 nations gather in Tokyo to discuss current regional security, bilateral issues

24.05.2022
Quad leaders unveil maritime initiative on ‘free, open Indo-Pacific’

ISTANBUL

The leaders of Japan, the US, Australia, and India on Tuesday agreed to uphold a "free and open Indo-Pacific," unveiling a maritime initiative to help countries track illegal fishing and monitor other activities in their waters, local media reported.

The leaders of the four-nation Quad, comprising the US, Japan, Australia, and India, gathered for a second in-person meeting in Tokyo to discuss the current regional security and bilateral issues.

Speaking at the inaugural session, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said: "The Russian invasion of Ukraine squarely challenges the principles which are enshrined in the UN Charter," according to Kyodo News Agency.

"We should never ever allow a similar incident to happen in the Indo-Pacific. ... There is great significance in demonstrating the four countries' solidarity and our strong commitment to the shared vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific (through the meeting)," the agency quoted Kishida as saying.

US President Joe Biden, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi are also attending the meeting.

Albanese arrived in Tokyo after taking oath as the new leader of Australia, where he announced that his country will host the next meeting of Quad in 2023.

The leaders are expected to discuss the Russia-Ukraine war. However, they may avoid including it in the joint statement as India is opposed to condemning the Russian attack.

China will also closely watch the Quad meeting in Tokyo as Beijing sees the quadrilateral security dialogue as an alliance against the country.

Under its new policy towards Asia, the US uses “Indo-Pacific” to refer to the wider Asia-Pacific region.

$50B to build Indo-Pacific infrastructure

Meanwhile, Kishida told a news conference that the Quad members will invest $50 billion to build Indo-Pacific infrastructure in the next five years.

He clarified that Japan has “no plan to join the AUKUS” – the security pact among the US, the UK, and Australia signed last year under which Canberra will get nuclear-powered submarines.

The Quad, said Kishida, “expressed concern over Russia’s war on Ukraine” while emphasizing that the group will “never allow change of status quo by force anywhere,” adding that the Quad "strongly" backs the sovereignty of Ukraine.

On India’s stance regarding the Russia-Ukraine war, Kishida said the Quad is a forum to “discuss extensive matters in order to advance practical cooperation in diverse areas towards the realization of free and open Indo-Pacific.”

New Delhi, an old ally of Moscow, has shown reluctance to condemn Russia over its war on Kyiv – a stance that goes against its Quad partners who have imposed massive sanctions on Russia.

* Writing by Riyaz ul Khaliq and Islamuddin Sajid

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