Officials of India and 3 other Quad members hold talks on Indo-Pacific

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     New Delhi, Aug 12 (PTI) Senior officials of India and three other member nations of the Quad on Thursday held extensive talks on further advancing practical cooperation in areas of infrastructure, maritime security, counter-terrorism and cybersecurity to achieve the goal of a free and open Indo-Pacific.
     A statement by the US State Department clearly indicated that the officials discussed the possibility of holding a second summit of the leaders of the Quad countries later this year.
     The US is keen to hold the in-person summit involving Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, US President Joe Biden, Australian PM Scott Morrison and Japanese PM Yoshihide Suga.
     The first summit among the leaders had taken place virtually in March.
     "They (the officials) welcomed the opportunity to continue regular consultations at the ministerial, senior official, and working levels and to hold a second Leaders' Summit this fall," the US State Department said.
     The Japanese foreign ministry said the meeting also reviewed progress in discussions for cooperation in the areas of vaccines, critical and emerging technologies and climate change besides deliberating on the situation in East and South China seas.
     The US State Department said the officials examined ways to advance ongoing cooperation on numerous topics of mutual interest, including strategic challenges confronting the region, countering disinformation, promoting democracy and human rights, strengthening international institutions and supporting countries vulnerable to coercive actions in the Indo-Pacific.
     "The four democracies acknowledged that global security and prosperity depends on the region remaining inclusive, resilient, and healthy. They discussed the importance of sustained international cooperation to end the COVID-19 pandemic in the Indo-Pacific and to promote economic recovery," it said.
     It said the consultations were held to advance a free and open Indo-Pacific region and to build on the historic discussions between President Joe Biden and prime ministers of India, Japan and Australia in a virtual summit on March 12.
     The US State Department said the officials discussed the importance of peace and security in the Taiwan Strait, the ongoing crisis in Myanmar, and reaffirmed the Quad's strong support for ASEAN centrality and the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific.
     "The officials concurred on further advancing practical cooperation among the four countries on quality infrastructure, maritime security, counter-terrorism, cybersecurity, and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief toward the achievement of a 'free and open Indo-Pacific'," the Japanese foreign ministry said in a statement.
     It said the meeting welcomed the fact that a "free and open Indo-Pacific" is a vision for the peace and prosperity of the region and its importance in the post-COVID world is increasing and that this vision has spread in the international community, including ASEAN and Europe.
     "They reaffirmed the importance of broadening cooperation with more countries for its further achievement. In this regard, the officials reaffirmed their strong support for ASEAN's unity and centrality as well as the ASEAN-led regional architecture, and their full support for the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific," the Japanese foreign ministry said. PTI MPB AAR

(This story has not been edited by THE WEEK and is auto-generated from PTI)