Calling for ‘free, open and inclusive India-Pacific’, India’s External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Tuesday said the country is committed to upholding the rules-based international order, underpinned by the rule of law, transparency and freedom of navigation in the international seas.During his opening remarks at 2nd Quad Ministerial Meeting here, Jaishankar asserted that the events of this year have clearly demonstrated how “imperative it is for like-minded countries to coordinate responses to the various challenges that the pandemic has brought to the force”. “As vibrant and pluralistic democracies with shared values, our nations have collectively affirmed the importance of maintaining a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific. We remain committed to upholding the rules-based international order, underpinned by the rule of law, transparency, freedom of navigation in the international seas, respect for territorial integrity and sovereignty and peaceful resolution of disputes,” he said.

The ministers expressed satisfaction that the India-Pacific concept has gained increasingly “wider acceptance” around the world.”Our objective remains to advance the security and the economic interests of all countries having legitimate and vital interests in the region. It is a matter of satisfaction that the Indo-Pacific concept has gained increasingly wider acceptance. The Indo-Pacific Ocean’s Initiative that we tabled at the East Asia Summit last year is a development with considerable promise in that context,” he added.

The second foreign ministers’ meeting of the Quadrilateral grouping began today. Speaking after, US Secretary Mike Pompeo, Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne, and Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi, Jaishankar said he looks forward to the discussions on important issues such as connectivity and infrastructure development, security including counter-terrorism.”I look forward to our discussions today on important issues such as connectivity and infrastructure development, security including counter-terrorism; cyber and maritime security; and the stability and prosperity in the region,” Jaishankar said.

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As India assumes membership of the UN Security Council next year, Jaishankar said he looks forward to seeking collective solutions to “global challenges, including global recovery from the pandemic and reform of multilateral institutions”.Acknowledging that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought about a profound transformation globally, the minister said: “The fact that we are meeting here today, in person, despite the global pandemic, is a testimony to the importance that these consultations have gained, particularly in recent times. Our world is significantly different today than what it was when we last met in New York in September 2019.”

“The events of this year have clearly demonstrated how imperative it is for like-minded countries to coordinate responses to the various challenges that the pandemic has brought to the fore. As we collectively navigate these uncharted waters, we seek to emerge from the pandemic more resilient than ever before,” he added.

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