Ahead of Quad meet, Pentagon says relationship with India a 'priority'

Written By: Sidhant Sibal WION
New Delhi Published: Feb 18, 2021, 01:50 PM(IST)

Quad meet underway in Tokyo Photograph:( AFP )

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The meet comes within a month of Biden presidency and shows the continuous focus of Washington from previous Trump administration on Indo-Pacific and Quad. 

Ahead of the Quad foreign minister meeting later today, the Pentagon has said ties with India is a priority and is critical.

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Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said, "India is a critical partner especially when you consider all the challenges in the Indo-Pacific region" and US Defence secretary is "prioritizing this relationship, wants to see continuing to grow and develop and to get stronger".

US defence secretary Lloyd Austin and Indian defence minister Rajnath Singh spoke to each other last month with reaffirmation on Indo-Pacific vision.

When it comes to defence relationship, there has been increased engagement including the signing of operational pacts like COMCASA, LEMOA. Bilateral exercises held annually include Malabar, Cope-India (Air Force), Yudh Abhyas (Army) and Vajra Prahar (Special Forces).

The third Quad foreign minister meeting takes place today at 5.30 pm (IST) and will see the participation of US state secretary Blinken, Japan FM Motegi Toshimitsu, Australian FM Marise Payne and EAM Dr S. Jaishankar.

The ministry of external affairs in a release said, "The ministers will exchange views on regional and global issues especially practical areas of cooperation towards maintaining a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific region." 

While today's meeting will be virtual, the last meeting happened physically in Japan on October 6. The first meeting of Quad FMs took on September 6, 2019, on the sidelines of the UNGA session in New York. Last year also saw COVID plus meetings taking place on how to deal with the pandemic at the foreign secretary-level.

Ned Price, Department spokesperson on the Quad meet said, "this discussion with the Quad foreign ministers, is critical to advancing our shared goals of a free and open Indo-Pacific and rising to the defining challenges of our time, including coordinating our efforts on COVID-19 response as well as climate change."

All four Quad countries issued releases on the meet with a key mention on "Indo-Pacific". 

The meet comes within a month of Biden presidency and shows the continuous focus of Washington from previous Trump administration on Indo-Pacific and Quad. 

In fact, in response to a question, Pentagon spokesperson said, "US defence secretary will absolutely" support a gathering of Quad countries. 

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