- Foreign ministers of Quad grouping held extensive talks in Melbourne
- The ministers last held talks virtually in February last year
- The Quad is also pursuing work on 5G technology
The foreign ministers of the Quad grouping of India, the US, Australia and Japan on Friday held extensive talks in Melbourne amid escalating tension between Russia and NATO countries over Ukraine, the Afghan crisis and increasing concerns over China's "coercion" in the Indo-Pacific region. The foreign ministers vowed to work vigorously to achieve the grouping's shared vision of a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific and collectively deal with common threats such as terrorism.
The ministers last held talks virtually in February last year. The Quad vaccine partnership was announced in March last year with an aim to deliver one billion doses of vaccines to the Indo-Pacific region by the end of 2022. It is learnt that there has been good progress under this initiative. The production of Johnson and Johnson's Janssen vaccines started at India's Biological E facility in Hyderabad in October last year with the assistance of the US Development Financial Cooperation (DFC) through a credit line of USD 50 million to augment manufacturing capacity.
India is also open to supplying safe and affordable Made in India vaccines, such as COVOVAX and CORBEVAX, under the Quad vaccine partnership. Following the launch of the Quad working group on critical and emerging technologies in March last year, four subgroups were established, with each country leading on one group. The Quad is pursuing work on 5G technology and vendor diversification to maintain a diverse, open and interoperable telecommunication ecosystem through collaboration with like-minded partners.
In November 2017, India, Japan, the US and Australia gave shape to the long-pending proposal of setting up the Quad to develop a new strategy to keep the critical sea routes in the Indo-Pacific free of any influence, amidst China's growing military presence in the strategically vital region. Announcing Jaishankar’s visits to Australia and The Philippines, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) in New Delhi said he will participate in the fourth Quad foreign ministers' meeting on February 11 in Melbourne along with his counterparts from Australia, Japan and the US.
The MEA said it will be an opportunity for the ministers to follow up on their virtual meeting held in February last year and exchange views on regional strategic issues given their shared vision of a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific region. India, the US and several other world powers have been talking about the need to ensure a free, open and thriving Indo-Pacific in the backdrop of China's rising military manoeuvring in the region.
China claims nearly all of the disputed South China Sea, though Taiwan, the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam all claim parts of it. Beijing has built artificial islands and military installations in the South China Sea. Beijing is also involved in a maritime dispute with Japan over the East China Sea.