Post-Dok­lam, In­dia as­serts it­self in China’s back­yard

High­lights con­ver­gence with Quad na­tions

The Hindu - - FRONT PAGE - Kal­lol Bhat­tacher­jee

Dis­play­ing con­ver­gence of in­ter­ests with the new quadri­lat­eral group­ing with U.S., Ja­pan and Aus­tralia, In­dia on Tues­day reached out to China’s back­yard, ad­dress­ing an ar­ray of is­sues rang­ing from the ten­sion in the Korean penin­sula to free­dom of nav­i­ga­tion and sought a crack­down on chem­i­cal weapons dur­ing the ASEAN-In­dia and the East Asia sum­mits.

More de­pend­able

A high-level In­dian of­fi­cial told The Hindu that New Delhi has emerged as a more de­pend­able part­ner for South-East Asia fol­low­ing the Dok­lam face-off with China and in­di­cated that the South-East Asian coun­tries ex­pect New Delhi to be as­sertive with Bei­jing. “The out­come of the Dok­lam cri­sis has shown that In­dia has reached a stage where it can be a re­silient strate­gic and de­fence part­ner for them,” said the of­fi­cial.

Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi on Tues­day left for home af­ter con­clud­ing his three-day visit to the Philip­pines where he at­tended the ASEAN-In­dia and East Asia sum­mits be­sides hold­ing a se­ries of bi­lat­eral meet­ings with a num­ber of lead­ers in­clud­ing U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump.

“Af­ter a se­ries of pro­duc­tive bi­lat­eral and mul­ti­lat­eral en­gage­ments in Manila, PM @naren­dramodi heads for home,” Min­istry of Ex­ter­nal Af­fairs spokesman Raveesh Ku­mar tweeted.

United ap­proach

On the side­lines of the sum­mits, Mr. Modi held “very ex­pan­sive” talks with Mr. Trump dur­ing which the two lead­ers car­ried out a “broad re­view” of the strate­gic land­scape in Asia, sig­nalling deeper co­op­er­a­tion by the two coun­tries in deal­ing with sen­si­tive se­cu­rity is­sues con­fronting the re­gion.

It is learnt that the broader se­cu­rity ar­chi­tec­ture in the Indo-Pa­cific re­gion in the back­drop of China’s in­creas­ing mil­i­tary pres­ence in South China Sea fig­ured in their talks apart from a host of other re­gional and global is­sues in­clud­ing ter­ror­ism em­a­nat­ing from Pak­istan, North Korea’s mis­sile tests, sit­u­a­tion in Afghanistan and also the Gulf re­gion.

Mr. Modi also held widerang­ing talks with Philip­pines Pres­i­dent Rodrigo Duterte, cov­er­ing an en­tire gamut of bi­lat­eral re­la­tion­ship. Af­ter their talks, the two coun­tries inked four pacts pro­vid­ing for co­op­er­a­tion in a num­ber of ar­eas, in­clud­ing de­fence and se­cu­rity.

He held wide-rang­ing talks with his Ja­panese coun­ter­part, Shinzo Abe, with a fo­cus on ramp­ing up the strate­gic part­ner­ship be­tween the two Asian giants.

Many bi­lat­eral meets

Mr. Modi held bi­lat­eral meet­ings with his Aus­tralian coun­ter­part Mal­colm Turn­bull, Viet­namese Premier Nguyen Xuan Phuc, Sul­tan of Brunei Has­sanal Bolkiah and New Zealand Prime Min­is­ter Jacinda Ardern, and dis­cussed ways to fur­ther ramp up co­op­er­a­tion in var­i­ous key ar­eas like trade and in­vest­ment.

REUTERS ■

Reach­ing out: PM Modi, Chi­nese Premier Li Ke­qiang and Philip­pines Pres­i­dent Rodrigo Duterte in Manila.

AFP ■

Stronger ties: Viet­nam’s PM Nguyen Xuan Phuc, left, PM Naren­dra Modi and Philip­pine Pres­i­dent Rodrigo Duterte, right, shake hands at the 15th ASEAN-In­dia Sum­mit in Manila.

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