The region remains the focus of the alliance between US and Australia, the two countries said after a recent meeting

The US and Australia are pushing for India to play a bigger role to strengthen partnerships in the Indo-Pacific region.

In a joint statement after a meeting on Tuesday, the two countries expressed concerns about China’s recent coercive and destabilising actions across the Indo-Pacific, according to a report in the Hindustan Times.

The meeting was attended by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne, US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, and Australian Defence Minister Linda Reynolds.

It said the Indo-Pacific remains the focus of their alliance and that two countries are working side-by-side, including with Asean, India, Japan, the Republic of Korea and Five Eyes partners, to strengthen the networked structure of alliances and partnerships to maintain a region that is secure, prosperous, inclusive and rules-based.

The report further said that the US and Australia are committed to trilateral dialogues with Japan and Quad consultations with Japan and India. “The Quadrilateral security dialogue or Quad, which includes India, Australia, Japan and the US was upgraded to the ministerial level last September,” it said.

Sameer Patil, a fellow for international security studies at Gateway House, was quoted describing India as the most natural partner for security-related initiatives by the US and Australia, both in the Indian Ocean and the wider Indo-Pacific region. He pointed out Australia’s concerns about China’s interference in domestic politics and issues such as cyber security.

Patil feels the four countries can counter the rising Chinese influence in the Indo-Pacific, if the Quad can get its act together.

Read the full report in Hindustan Times