India to Play Safe While Meeting with Big Powers
Likely to hold talks with Japan-US-Aus in Nov to counter China threat; envoys of Russia, China to visit New Delhi in Dec
NewDelhi: TheNarendraModigovernment will be trying to keep a delicate balancing act going as it engages withmajorpowersinNovemberand December.
While an official-level meeting of the India-Japan-US-Australia quadrilateral is expected in Manila in November—with an eye on balancing an aggressive China—on the sidelines of the East Asia Summit, Delhi will be hosting foreign ministers of Russia and China in December under the Russia-IndiaChina (RIC) trilateral format.
The idea of the quadrilateral was conceived by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and the first meeting was held in 2007. However, Australia had later pulled out of the initiative. Last week, US secretary of state Rex Tillerson too had in his meeting with external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj pushed the idea of the quadrilateral that was echoed near simultaneously by Japanese foreign minister in an interview to local media.
In December, Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi will visit India for the RIC convened by Swaraj. Wang will be the first high-level visitor from Beijing since the Dokalam crisis and Xi Jinping’s re-election as general secretary of the Communist Party, and president and chairman of the Central Military Commission.
When asked about Delhi’s position onthequadrilateral,anMEAspokesperson had last Friday signalled caution, saying India has an open mind tocooperatewithcountrieswithconvergence but obviously to an agenda that is relevant to Delhi.
India was scheduled to hold the RIC meet this April but China had refused to join on that occasion, allegedly to protest against Dalai Lama’s Arunachal visit. While the RIC meet will provide an opportunity to deliberate upon key global challenges including global and cross-border terror, Afghan and North Korean situations, stability of seas, and BRICS-relateddevelopments,alleyes will be on Wang’s meetings and the message he carries from the top. Wang will hold bilateral meet with Swaraj besides calling on the PM.