Quad summit in India this year, grouping not aimed at any single country, says MEA official


New Delhi: India is preparing to host the Quad Leaders’ Summit later this year, while preparations are underway for the Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Japan in the second half of 2024 as well, said Nagaraj Naidu Kakanur, Joint Secretary (Americas) at the Ministry of External Affairs, and Takashi Ariyoshi, the Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of Japan, India.

“India is looking forward to holding a very successful Quad Leaders’ Summit later in the year,” said Kakanur Friday at the launch of a report titled “Two Decades of the Quad: Diplomacy & Cooperation in the Indo-Pacific”, published by the Observer Research Foundation (ORF) and the East-West Center.

The Quadrilateral Security Dialogue — commonly referred to as the Quad — consists of India, Japan, the US and Australia as members and first came together in response to the Sumatra earthquake in 2004, which led to the Indian Ocean tsunami on 26 December that year.

While the grouping has had a false start or two, in recent years it has formalised, with annual leader’s summits and foreign minister meetings across different sectors.

“The Quad has ambitions… It is undergoing a degree of formalisation, with appointments of Sherpas, Sous-Sherpas and senior officials, to give the (grouping) a form. This has helped increase its constituency of supporters beyond the strategic security personnel,” said Naidu Kakanur.

However, he shot down the idea of a permanent secretariat for the grouping. He pointed out the Group of Twenty (G20) did not have one and India hosted “250 events across 60 cities”, while adding that “a secretariat does not ensure the success of any organisation”.

The grouping has focused on delivering on public good, especially during global events such as the tsunami of 2004, the COVID-19 pandemic and the recent landslide in Papua New Guinea, explained Patricia A. Lacina, Deputy Chief of Mission at the Embassy of the United States of America, India.

The panel at the launch of the report Friday also included Nicholas McCaffrey, Acting High Commissioner to India, High Commission of Australia, Harsh V. Pant, Vice President Strategic Studies ORF and Satu Limaye, Director East-West Center, Washington D.C.

McCaffrey called the Quad a “consequential diplomatic partnership” for Indo-Pacific security and prosperity.

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‘Quad not aimed at any country’

All four diplomatic representatives said the grouping was not aimed at any single country, but focused on the shared prosperity of nations in the Indo-Pacific, with emphasis on ensuring that all countries in the region have the ability to freely choose their partners.

“We support the strategic balance in the Indo-Pacific, where each country can act without the worry of domination and free from coercion, and can choose their own futures,” said McCaffrey, mirroring the Quad Leaders’ Joint Statement announced in May 2023 at Hiroshima, Japan.

Ariyoshi added, “Former Japanese Prime Minister, the late Shinzo Abe, wanted to maintain the rule of law and democracy. Whatever countries respect these fundamental values – we are open to cooperating with. The Quad is not Asian NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, a military alliance).”

For the US, Lacina explained, its focus was preserving the “international order” and that activities of the Quad were aimed at benefiting regional partner countries.

“Nowhere did any of the panelists mention or name a single country. It is you all (the audience) that has named a country,” said Naidu Kakanur, reiterating that the Quad was not aimed at any country in the region.

China has been alarmed by the cooperation between Quad members. In March 2023, after the foreign ministers meeting of the grouping was held in New Delhi, Mao Ning, the Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson criticised it during a regular press briefing.

“China has stated our position on QUAD on multiple occasions. We believe that state-to-state cooperation needs to be consistent with the trend of peace and development, rather than be about putting up exclusionary blocs,” said Mao on 3 March, 2023.

(Edited by Tikli Basu)

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