Indian External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar has called upon the four-member Quadrilateral grouping to play a bigger role in maintaining security in the Indo-Pacific region. He spoke at an event organised by the Australia India Institute at the University of Melbourne just before the four-member Quad began its Foreign Ministers' meeting.
Jaishankar held an hour-long conversation on the topic–Australia India Partnership in the Indo-Pacific–with Lisa Singh, CEO of the Australia India Institute and answered questions at a packed event, according to a press release by the university.
“The Quad is an indication that the world is changing”. Delighted to engage in an insightful conversation with @DrSJaishankar today @UniMelb hosted by @AIinstitute 🇮🇳🇦🇺#Quad #Dosti pic.twitter.com/EU43JGt6Gz
— Lisa Singh (@Lisa_Singh) February 11, 2022
Stephen Dziedzic, the foreign affairs reporter for Australian Broadcasting Corporation (Asia Pacific) tweeted from the event, saying: "Jaishankar says the India-Australia relationship is much closer – it is "dramatically changing right in front of my eyes." Says India is growing in strength and its interests are widening – "I speak to you on behalf of a country which has clearly moved up the global ladder."
— Stephen Dziedzic (@stephendziedzic) February 10, 2022
Talking about India's engagement with the Quad, Singh said: “India has become vibrantly engaged in the Indo Pacific’s geopolitical and economic architecture through its Act East approach. Australia shares India’s energetic engagement to work on a range of areas of mutual interests at the highest levels, all to work together for a peaceful and stable Indo-Pacific region".
The Australia India Institute also launched the Institute’s India Matters programme. Singh said: "India Matters is an exciting programme the Institute will offer through interviews, policy briefs, analysis and reviews with experts, on why India matters to Australia and the world".
Duncan Maskell, Vice Chancellor of the University of Melbourne, said: “Australia’s region is dynamic and will play a pivotal role in shaping global progress in this century. The Australia-India bilateral relationship is a key part of this. It holds great promise and cause for optimism".
Jaishankar is on his first trip to Australia as the foreign minister to attend the Quad foreign ministers meet which began on Friday morning. The Quad countries have intensified their engagement in response to China's military assertion against countries in the Indo-Pacific.
Besides the China factor, the four countries are also cooperating on development projects and socio-economic assistance in the region. They are looking at vaccine production, increasing connectivity in the region, technology collaboration and facilitating student mobility.
Jaishankar is also holding bilateral meetings with the other foreign ministers, with a focus on improving relations with the US, Japan and Australia.
China's State-owned Global Times tried to downplay the Quad meet. In an article a couple of days before the meet, it said the four countries are meeting with divergent expectations and the Quad members hold a cold war mentality.