Modi meets Aus­tralian, Ja­panese PMS in bid to fur­ther se­cu­rity ties

Mint ST - - POLITICS - BY EL­IZ­A­BETH ROCHE el­iz­a­beth.r@livemint.com NEW DELHI

Aday af­ter In­dia ex­pressed its will­ing­ness to join the US to work for the fu­ture of Asia in the back­drop of an ag­gres­sive China, Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi on Tues­day held talks with his Aus­tralian and Ja­panese coun­ter­parts sep­a­rately amid ef­forts by the US, Ja­pan, In­dia and Aus­tralia to take for­ward the idea of a new se­cu­rity ar­chi­tec­ture in the Indo-pa­cific re­gion.

Sig­nif­i­cantly, Modi also spoke to Chi­nese Pre­mier Li Ke­qiang, Preeti Saran, sec­re­tary (East) in the In­dian for­eign min­istry said, on the mar­gins of the East Asia Sum­mit that brings to­gether the 10-mem­ber As­so­ci­a­tion of South­east Asian Na­tions (Asean) and its part­ners, In­dia, China, Aus­tralia, New Zealand, South Korea, Ja­pan, US and Rus­sia.

Saran, how­ever, de­clined to give any de­tails as she said the brief meet­ing took place in the lead­ers’ lounge and no of­fi­cials were present there.

Modi’s meet­ing with Li is his sec­ond with China’s top lead­er­ship af­ter a 73-day-long tense stand-off be­tween In­dian and Chi­nese mil­i­taries on Bhutan’s Dok­lam plateau ended on 28 Au­gust. Modi had pre­vi­ously met Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping on the side­lines of a meet­ing of the Brazil-rus­sia-in­di­achina-south Africa group of de­vel­op­ing coun­tries hosted by Bei­jing in Septem­ber.

Other lead­ers Modi met on Tues­day in­cluded Viet­namese Pre­mier Nguyen Xuan Phuc, Sul­tan of Brunei Has­sanal Bolkiah and New Zealand Prime Min­is­ter Jacinda Ardern, Saran said.

How­ever, the two meet­ings watched with in­ter­est were the bi­lat­erald­is­cus­sion­swith­japan and Aus­tralia—two coun­tries that along with In­dia and the US make up the “quadri­lat­eral” which is seen as the new mech­a­nism for co­op­er­a­tion on se­cu­rity is­sues in the Indo-pa­cific re­gion stretch­ing from the Pa­cific coast of the US to Aus­tralia and be­yond to Africa. This comes amid a buildup of Chi­nese mil­i­tary pres­ence in the re­gion—eyed war­ily by many coun­tries in the re­gion.

Modi’s meet­ings with Abe and Turn­bull fol­lowed an­other be­tween him and the US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump in Manila on Mon­day dur­ing which the In­dian prime min­is­ter said that “co­op­er­a­tion be­tween In­dia and the US can rise be­yond bi­lat­eral co­op­er­a­tion and both coun­tries can work for the fu­ture of Asia and the world.” In­dia would try to “live up to the ex­pec­ta­tions” of the US and the world, Modi added later.

Saran, brief­ing re­porters on Tues­day’s meet­ings, said Modi’s dis­cus­sions with Abe and Turn­bull re­volved around bi­lat­eral is­sues—like trade, in­vest­ment and in­fra­struc­ture. With Abe, there was dis­cus­sion on se­cu­rity is­sues as well as the Asia-africa Growth Cor­ri­dor, seen as a re­sponse to China’s Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive, an am­bi­tious in­fra­struc­ture pro­gramme aimed at con­nect­ing China by land and sea to South­east Asia, Pak­istan and Cen­tral Asia, and be­yond to the Mid­dle East, Europe and Africa.

“I am sure that when the meet­ings (with Abe and Turn­bull took place) there would have been dis­cus­sions on the quadri­lat­eral but when the de­tails were be­ing given out the fo­cus was on the bi­lat­eral ele­ments be­cause these meet­ings were es­sen­tially bi­lat­eral meet­ings,” said for­mer for­eign sec­re­tary Lalit Mans­ingh.

Ker­ala’s trans­port min­is­ter Thomas Chandy has come un­der in­creased pres­sure to quit af­ter the state high court crit­i­cized him sharply on Tues­day over a case of land en­croach­ment. Chandy had moved the HC chal­leng­ing find­ings of a probe that found him guilty of pub­lic land en­croach­ment and eco­log­i­cal vi­o­la­tions. See Page 21

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