S Jaishankar is on a two-day visit to Tokyo to attend the second QUAD ministerial meeting

Quad is committed to upholding the rules-based international order underpinned by the rule of law, respect for territorial integrity and peaceful resolution of disputes, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar has said.

In his opening remarks at the second Australia-India-Japan-United States Consultations or Quad meeting in Tokyo on Tuesday, Jaishankar also spoke about freedom of navigation in a reference to the Indo-Pacific region.

According to Jaishankar, the objective of the consultations was to advance the security and economic interest of all countries having legitimate and vital interests in the region.

“As vibrant and pluralistic democracies with shared values, our nations have collectively affirmed the importance of maintaining a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific,” he said.

Though he did not name China, the comments are significant as they come in the backdrop of the ongoing border standoff. The Quad consultations also come at a time when the international community is deeply concerned over China’s aggression in the South China Sea.

Expressing satisfaction that the Indo-Pacific concept had gained “increasingly wider acceptance”, he pointed out that the Indo-Pacific Ocean’s Initiative tabled at the East Asia Summit last year was a development with considerable promise in that context.

“I look forward to our discussions today on important issues such as connectivity and infrastructure development, security including counter-terrorism; cyber and maritime security; and the stability and prosperity in the region,” he said.

Pointing out that India would assume membership of the UN Security Council next year, Jaishankar said he looked forward to seeking “collective solutions to global challenges,including global recovery from the pandemic and reform of multilateral institutions”.

Referring to the meeting being held in person despite the COVID-19 pandemic, he said this was a testimony to the importance that these Consultations have gained, particularly in recent times. “Our world is significantly different today than what it was when we last met in New York in September 2019. The Covid-19 pandemic has brought about a profound transformation globally,” Jaishankar noted.

He added that the events of this year “have clearly demonstrated how imperative it is for like minded countries to coordinate responses to the various challenges that the pandemic has brought to the fore”.

Expressing his pleasure and gratitude, he took to Twitter and said, “Delighted to join my QUAD colleagues at our Ministerial consultations in Tokyo. Thank FM @moteging for his gracious hospitality.”

The first quad ministerial meeting took place last September in New York, after rounds of foreign ministry officials’ talks, the latest of which took place virtually, on September 25, since the grouping was revived in 2017.

Earlier in the day, the External Affairs Minister called on Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga along with other Quad foreign ministers. He spoke about the bilateral and global dimensions of our special partnership.

“Called on PM @sugawitter along with other Quad Foreign Ministers. Spoke about the bilateral and global dimensions of our special partnership,” he said in a tweet.

He also had a bilateral meeting with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

“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,” he stated in a tweet while starting his two-day visit.