Amid China’s aggressive posturing in the region, India, the United States, Japan and Australia will hold a crucial meeting in the ‘quadrilateral’ format later this week on the margins of the East Asia Summit in Singapore to be held on 14-15 November.
Briefing reporters on Monday on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s two-day visit to Singapore for the East Asia Summit and related meetings, Vijay Thakur Singh, Secretary (East) in the External Affairs Ministry confirmed that the quadrilateral meeting would be held at the official functional level to have a look at peace and prosperity issues in the Indo-Pacific region.
This will be the third meeting of the ‘Quad’, which is largely seen as a group seeking to counter China’s growing power and influence in the region. The first meeting was held in November 2017 on the margins of the ASEAN Summit in the Philippines and the second in Singapore in June this year on the sidelines of the ASEAN officials’ meeting.
Senior officials of the four countries are expected to discuss ways to balance China’s growing ambitions in the Indo-Pacific region, share their perspectives on the geopolitics of the region and emphasise the centrality of ASEAN for the ‘Quad’ process.
Singh also confirmed that PM Modi would hold a bilateral meeting with US Vice-President Mike Pence in Singapore on 14 November. Though she did not reflect on issues likely to come up during the meeting, it is understood the two leaders would review Indo-US ties, particularly India’s contention for a US waiver on defence purchases from Russia, Including the S-400 missile defence systems deal. The Indian leader would also hold bilateral talks with many other leaders.
The senior MEA official said that shortly after his arrival in Singapore on 14 November, Modi would deliver his keynote address at the Financial Technology Summit, the largest of its kind.
Modi would also attend the 2nd meeting of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), a proposed Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between ten ASEAN countries and the six Asia Pacific nations. He would also attend a dinner being hosted by the Singapore Prime Minister for leaders attending the East Asia Summit.
On 15 November, Modi would attend the India-ASEAN breakfast summit, followed by a retreat of leaders attending the East Asia Summit. He would thereafter attend the plenary of the East Asia Summit before leaving for India in the evening.