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Jaishankar to visit to Australia for Quad foreign ministers’ summit

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar (Photo: ANI)

External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar plans to visit Australia this month for the fourth Quad foreign ministers' meeting between India, Australia, Japan and the US.

This will be the first face-to-face meeting for the four ministers since they last met in October 2020 in Tokyo. The 2021 Quadrilateral Security Dialogue meet between the four was held online on February 18.

The Australian Government said on Monday that US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is expected to travel to Australia to discuss Indo-Pacific coordination with his counterparts–Jaishankar from India, Yoshimasa Hayashi from Japan and Marise Payne from Australia.

The meet is likely to take place mid-February. "We are a vital network of liberal democracies cooperating to give our region strategic choices, with a focus on practical steps to build the resilience and sovereignty of all states", Payne said in a statement reported by the Australian media.

The two-day meeting takes place at a time when tensions in the Indo-Pacific region are racheting up due to China's aggression and North Korean missile tests. Also, the US is locked up, along with Europe, in tensions against Russia over Ukraine.

All the four Quad countries face the heat from China over territorial disputes and trade wars. In 2020, China intruded into Indian borders and despite over a dozen border talks it has only deployed more weapons on the border.

With Japan, China has a dipute over the Sentosa islands which are currently under Japanese control. However, Tokyo feels that if China attacks Taiwan, Beijing is likely is mount an attack on Japan also.

China waded into a trade dispute with Australia after the latter sought an inquiry into the origins of the coronavirus which had spread across the world from Wuhan. China responded to Australia through trade sanctions and unleashed its wolf warriors who regularly insulted the Australian government over trivial issues.

The US and China have a trade dispute besides an ongoing confrontation in the South China Sea (SCS) over international access to shipping lanes and Beijing's claims of owning all islands and features in the SCS.

The Quad countries have been chiselling the grouping into a bigger entity than merely balancing China. The four nations seek to strengthen regional countries through the supply of coronavirus vaccines, building alternate supply chains and bring about socio-economic development to the region.