Wed, 27 Oct 2021

Washington [US], September 25 (ANI): Quad leaders on Friday renewed their commitment to promote free, open, rules-based order in the Indo-Pacific.

In the first-ever in-person Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad) Leaders' Summit hosted by US President Joe Biden in Washington, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Japan's Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga participated.

"The occasion of the Quad summit is an opportunity to refocus ourselves and the world on the Indo-Pacific and on our vision for what we hope to achieve. Together, we recommit to promoting the free, open, rules-based order, rooted in international law and undaunted by coercion, to bolster security and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific and beyond," said the joint statement of the Quad leaders.

China's increased aggression in the South China Sea is aggravating regional tension. China's unilateral claim on the Nine-Dash Line in the South China Sea; rapid warship building its first overseas base in Djibouti; and its surface and subsurface activities in the Indian Ocean beyond the Malacca Straits have alarmed regional countries.

"We stand for the rule of law, freedom of navigation and overflight, peaceful resolution of disputes, democratic values, and territorial integrity of states. We commit to working together and with a range of partners," added the joint statement.

Moreover, the manner of China's dismissal of the Arbitral Award in the dispute with the Philippines on the South China Sea, militarisation of the islands in the region have raised concerns.

The Quad Leaders' Summit also focussed on ASEAN groupings.

"We reaffirm our strong support for ASEAN's unity and centrality and for ASEAN's Outlook on the Indo-Pacific, and we underscore our dedication towards working with ASEAN and its member states--the heart of the Indo-Pacific region--in practical and inclusive ways. We also welcome the September 2021 EU Strategy for Cooperation in the Indo-Pacific," the joint statement further said.

The implementation of the EU Strategy includes, in particular, the following actions: Completing EU trade negotiations with Australia, Indonesia and New Zealand; resuming trade negotiations and starting investment negotiations with India.

It also includes stepping up implementation of the connectivity partnerships with Japan and India; supporting partners in establishing an appropriate regulatory environment and facilitating the mobilisation of the necessary funding to improve connectivity on the ground between Europe and the Indo-Pacific.

"We also recognize that our shared futures will be written in the Indo-Pacific, and we will redouble our efforts to ensure that the Quad is a force for regional peace, stability, security, and prosperity. Towards that end, we will continue to champion adherence to international law, particularly as reflected in the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), to meet challenges to the maritime rules-based order, including in the East and South China Seas," added the statement.

The Quad leaders also said that they will assist Pacific Island countries in responding to the health and economic impacts of COVID-19.

"We affirm our support to small island states, especially those in the Pacific, to enhance their economic and environmental resilience. We will continue our assistance with Pacific Island countries on responses to the health and economic impacts of COVID-19 and on quality, sustainable infrastructure, as well as a partner to mitigate and adapt to the impacts of climate change, which poses especially serious challenges for the Pacific," said the joint statement.

It further said that regular annual meeting of leaders, foreign ministers, and senior officials is also planned.

"We will continue to build habits of cooperation; our leaders and foreign ministers will meet annually and our senior officials will meet regularly. Our working groups will continue their steady tempo to produce the cooperation necessary to build a stronger region," said the statement.

"At a time that tests us all, our commitment to realize a free and open Indo-Pacific is firm, and our vision for this partnership remains ambitious and far-reaching. With steadfast cooperation, we rise to meet this moment, together," added the joint statement. (ANI)

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