New Delhi, Oct 6 (PTI) In the midst of growing global concern over China's expansionist behaviour, India on Tuesday said it remained committed to a rules-based world order, respect for territorial integrity and sovereignty and peaceful resolution of disputes.
In his opening remarks at a ministerial meeting of the Quadrilateral coalition or 'Quad' in Tokyo, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said advancing security and economic interests of all countries having legitimate and vital interests in the Indo-Pacific remained a key priority.
The in-person meeting of the foreign ministers of the 'Quad' comprising India, the US, Japan and Australia is taking place in the backdrop of China's aggressive military behaviour in the Indo-Pacific, South China Sea and along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh.
Besides Jaishankar, the meeting is being attended by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne and Japan's Toshimitsu Motegi.
'As vibrant and pluralistic democracies with shared values, our nations have collectively affirmed the importance of maintaining a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific,' Jaishankar said.
'We remain committed to upholding the rules-based international order, underpinned by the rule of law, transparency, freedom of navigation in the international seas, respect for territorial integrity and sovereignty and peaceful resolution of disputes,' he said.
The evolving situation in the Indo-Pacific region in the wake of China's increasing military muscle flexing has become a major talking point among leading global powers in the last few years. The US has been favouring making Quad a security architecture to check China's growing assertiveness.
In his address, Jaishankar also said that it was a matter of satisfaction that the Indo-Pacific concept has gained increasingly wider acceptance.
'Our objective remains advancing the security and the economic interests of all countries having legitimate and vital interests in the region,' he said.
Jaishankar also mentioned about the Indo-Pacific Ocean's Initiative which was presented by India at last year's East Asia Summit.
At East Asia Summit in Bangkok last year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi proposed setting up of the Indo-Pacific Ocean's initiative to conserve and sustainably use the maritime domain and to make meaningful efforts to create a safe and secure maritime domain.
On the sidelines of the Quad meeting, the external affairs minister held bilateral talks with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during which ways to deepen cooperation in the Indo-Pacific also figured.
'Began my Tokyo visit with a bilateral meeting with @SecPompeo. Pleased to see the progress of our partnership in so many fields. Will work together for stability and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific,' Jaishankar tweeted.
At the Quad meeting, Jaishankar also referred to COVID-19 and said the events of this year have clearly demonstrated how imperative it is for likeminded countries to coordinate responses to the various challenges that the pandemic has brought to the fore.
'As we collectively navigate these uncharted waters, we seek to emerge from the pandemic more resilient than ever before,' he said. 'You are all aware that India assumes membership of the UN Security Council next year. We look forward to seeking collective solutions to global challenges, including global recovery from the pandemic and reform of multilateral institutions,' he added.
Jaishankar also mentioned about key issues such as connectivity, infrastructure development, security including counter-terrorism; cyber and maritime security.
In November 2017, the four countries gave shape to the long-pending proposal of setting up the 'Quad' to develop a new strategy to keep the critical sea routes in the Indo-Pacific free of any influence.
The first meeting of foreign ministers of the four countries under the 'Quad' framework had taken place in New York in September 2019.
The second ministerial meeting of the Quadrilateral coalition on Tuesday is expected to collectively affirm the importance of a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific in the backdrop of growing Chinese assertiveness in the region.
Last week, the Ministry of External Affairs said the meeting of the foreign ministers of the four countries is expected to collectively affirm the importance of a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific. PTI MPB ZMN