There have been concerns over China's growing military presence in the Indo-Pacific and the issue was understood to have figured in a meeting of officials from India, the US, Japan and Australia today under the proposed Quadrilateral coalition of the four countries.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is in Manila to attend the Summit and is slated to meet all the counterparts of the Quadrilateral dialogue partners separately one by on the sidelines of the summit.
The dialogue is aimed at bolstering their influence over the region against China's expanding presence.
The quadrilateral meeting of officials of the four countries in Manila - their leaders chose to have lower-level diplomats meet in a cautious beginning - has been followed closely by Beijing and strategic experts in China, coming on the heels of the Donald Trump administration rolling out an "Indo-Pacific" strategy that suggests a more broad approach to the region.
China on Monday said the US, Japan, India and Australia should not target Beijing, a day after the four met on the sidelines of the Asean Summit in Manila and chose to work for a "free, open, prosperous and inclusive Indo-Pacific region".
"The officials also exchanged views on addressing common challenges of terrorism and proliferation linkages impacting the region as well as on enhancing connectivity", the MEA statement said.
Officials from India, Australia, the U.S. and Japan met here today and discussed issues relating to cooperation the Indo-Pacific region, seen as a first move to set up a quadrilateral grouping to pursue common interests amidst growing assertiveness by the Chinese military in the strategically key region.
In its statement, the Japanese foreign ministry said officials discussed measures to ensure a free and open worldwide order based on the rule of law in the Indo- Pacific.
The Australian foreign ministry said the four countries shared a vision for increased prosperity and security in the Indo-Pacific region and will work together to ensure that it "remains free and open".
"The officials examined ways to achieve common goals and address shared challenges in the region". "Indo-Pacific" has grown in usage across diplomatic and security circles in Australia, India and Japan in recent years, shorthand for a broader and democratic-led region in place of the "Asia-Pacific", which to some places an authoritarian China too firmly at the centre. "This includes upholding the rules-based order in the Indo-Pacific and respect for worldwide law, freedom of navigation and overflight, increase connectivity", it said.
Politicians, industry leaders and experts are also converging in India during December 11-14 for the Global Partnership Summit (GPS) to fine-tune and strategise on cooperation.
The US and Japan have been pushing for a deeper Indian role in the strategically key Indo-Pacific region.
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