External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar has held a virtual conference with his counterparts from the US, Israel and the UAE, agreeing to utilise complementary capabilities to fulfill overlapping interests and strengthening the strategic partnership at a quadrilateral level. Jaishankar, who is currently on a five-day visit to Israel, was accompanied by the home nation's Foreign Minister, Yair Lapid, during the quadrilateral-level meeting on Monday, while US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan participated virtually.
In his remarks, Blinken described Israel, the UAE and India as three of "our most strategic partners". He said by "bringing friends together in new ways, we are making these partnerships even greater than the sum of their parts".
"I think that is what this gathering is about. Sitting here in Washington I can say very simply that with Israel, the UAE and India we have three of our most strategic partners. And given so many overlapping interests -- energy, climate, trade, regional security -- this seems like a really interesting and good idea to try and use this new format and very complementary capabilities in very many areas to just see many more things get done. That's the idea," Blinken said.
Lapid, who is also Israel's Alternate Prime Minister, noted that "one of the things we are looking for is synergy, and that is what we will try and create after this meeting."
"Synergy which will help us work together in all the areas that pre-occupies us. Around this table we have a unique set of capabilities, knowledge and experiences that can be used to create a network that we all want to create," Lapid said.
The Israeli leader felt that the key to achieving what they were aiming at was quickly moving from government-to-government to business-to-business.
He emphasised the need for this quadrilateral grouping to quickly put adequate mechanisms in place to translate efforts into real businesses around the globe.
UAE's Al Nahyan thanked Blinken and Lapid for graciously "proposing the idea" of creating this kind of forum to boost cooperation.
Talking about India, the UAE minister said, "Minister Jaishankar is an old friend, I could say, but also India and UAE have such a strong and diverse relationship."
Touching upon bureaucratic hurdles that often slow down such initiatives, Al Nahyan suggested businesses should be surprised by opportunities and then it should be observed how the trading community responds, in terms of putting a robust plan forward.
Jaishankar, in his brief comment, said, "The three of you are among the closest relationships we have, if not the closest".
He agreed with Blinken that this kind of an forum could work much better than three different bilateral engagements.
Jaishankar cited the fight against COVID-19 at a difficult time as an example of the benefits of such cooperative mechanisms where bilateral ties tend to fail.
"I think it is very clear that on the big issues of our times we all think very similarly and what would be helpful would be if we could agree on some practical things to work upon," Jaishankar said.
Later, the four foreign ministers entered a closed discussion to draw a strategy to make this quadrilateral cooperative plan a reality. Reports have indicated a new quad post the Abraham accords being inked last year.
In August 2020, Israel, the UAE and the US signed Abraham Accords. The accord helped Israel and the UAE normalise their ties.
India had welcomed the agreement, saying it “has always supported peace and stability in West Asia which is our extended neighbourhood."
India and Israel elevated bilateral relations to a strategic partnership during the historic visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Israel in July 2017.
Since then, the relationship between the two countries has focused on expanding knowledge-based partnership, which includes collaboration in innovation and research, including boosting the 'Make in India' initiative.
(With PTI inputs)
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