By Arul Louis
New York, April 20 (IANS) The US-Japan 2+2 ministerial meeting has welcomed the growing ties between their countries and India in the Indo-Pacific region that is of vital strategic interest to them.
The defence and diplomatic cabinet officials of the two countries expressed satisfaction on Friday with the trilateral meeting with India and noted significance of joint military exercises, the State Department said in a statement.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Acting Defence Secretary Patrick Shanahan met on Friday with Japan’s Foreign Minister Taro Kono and Defence Minister Takeshi Iwaya for their high-level strategic meeting focused on building a free and open Indo-Pacific.
“The Ministers also noted with satisfaction the first Japan-US-India trilateral summit meeting in 2018 and highlighted significant joint exercises, such as Malabar 2018 and Cope India 2018”, the statement said.
“Building upon these various trilateral efforts, the Ministers welcomed the regularization of quadrilateral engagement among Japan, the Us, Australia, and India”.
In the Asia region, where China is building up its presence and is involved in aggressive maritime disputes with several countries, the US and Japan “Ministers called for full respect for freedoms of navigation and overflight and other lawful uses of the sea, and reiterated the importance of activities that support those principles”, the statement said.
Prime Ministers Narendra Modi of India and Shinzo Abe of Japan and US President Donald Trump held their trilateral summit on the sidelines of the meeting of the G20, a grouping of 19 countries and the European Union, in Buenos Aires last November. Modi dubbed it as the “JAI” summit based on the initials of the three countries while noting that it meant victory in Hindi.
The navies of the three countries held the Malabar 2018 naval exercises off the coast of ths US territory of Guam last June.
US and the Indian Air Force participated in the Cope 2018 exercises conducted from the Kalaikunda Air Force base in West Bengal.
The India-US-Japan-Australia quadrilateral held a meeting of their of foreign office officials in Manila last November to discuss issues of common interest in the Indo-Pacific region.
(Arul Louis can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @arulouis)