Manila, Nov 12 Officials from India, Australia, the USA 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 his address, Donald Trump said India is celebrating 70th anniversary of Independence and apart from being a sovereign country, it is also world's biggest democracy. "The officials also exchanged views on addressing common challenges of terrorism and proliferation linkages impacting the region as well as on enhancing connectivity", it said in a statement. Trump administration officials have started to refer to Asia as the "Indo-Pacific, ' rather than the 'Asia-Pacific" region.
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During his India visit last month, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson reportedly talked about building a network of roads and highways with India that will be an alternative to China's Belt and Road initiative.
The Asean, comprising Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, has emerged as a key cornerstone of New Delhi's foreign policy, with the Look East Policy, launched by then Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao in 1992 and turned into the Act East Policy under the current NDA dispensation, is focused at increased engagements with the regional bloc. The US has been accusing China of violating global rules and norms by laying claims on the disputed South and East China seas. "Since India opened its economy, it has achieved astounding growth and a new world of opportunities for its expanding middle class".
India highlights Indo-Pacific cooperation at the first 'Quad' talks
Trump's Asia tour this week heightened the geopolitical prominence of its switch in terminology. US President Trump praises PM Modi for his contributions to Indo-Pacific region.
The US President's final stop on his five-nation Asian tour will be the Philippines - for an Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Summit.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday told the Indian team that participated in the recently concluded Federation Internationale de Football Association U-17 World Cup that competing with enthusiasm and spirit "is the first step to success".
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The use of the term Indo-Pacific by President Trump has also led to speculation that it may have something to do with Washington preparing the ground for a Japanese proposal on a "Quadrilateral" strategic alliance between the US, Japan, Australia and India which is apparently being put together to counter China's rise.