New Delhi: The foreign ministers of the Quad group reiterated that they are committed to combatting terrorism in “all its forms and manifestations” and called for adhering to UNCLOS in addressing “maritime claims” in South and East China seas.
On the sidelines of the UN general assembly, the foreign ministers of India, the United States, Japan and Australia met on Friday and issued a joint readout, which reiterated their commitments on a range of issues from Indo-Pacific to terrorism and Ukraine.
India was represented by External Affairs minister S. Jaishankar, who arrived in New York on Friday to kick-start a week of meetings at the UN’s annual jamboree.
As per the joint readout, the Quad ministers reaffirmed that “international law, respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, and the maintenance of peace and security in the maritime domain underpin the development and prosperity of the Indo-Pacific”.
Calling for disputes to be resolved peacefully, the Quad reiterated the importance of adhering to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) to address maritime claims in the South And East China Seas.
“We emphasise the importance of adherence to international law, particularly as reflected in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), to address challenges to the global maritime rules-based order, including with respect to maritime claims, and in the South and East China Seas.”
The sentence is nearly identical to the one in the Quad Leaders joint statement from May, with the exception of the newly introduced term “including with respect to maritime claims”.
Earlier in June, India has changed its position and called for abiding by the Arbitral Tribunal’s 2016 order that had struck down China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea. The Arbitral Tribunal was set up as per provisions of UNCLOS. This change in posture was mentioned in the India-Philippines joint statement issued after the meeting of the fifth Joint Commission on bilateral cooperation.
The joint press release also said that the group is “committed to countering terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, including preventing the international and cross border movement of terrorists, and countering terror finance networks and safe havens”.
Further, the Quad ministers “stressed the need for a comprehensive and balanced approach to effectively curb terrorist activities through the whole of nation and whole of international community efforts”.
A warm discussion with Quad colleagues to start my #UNGA78 participation. Welcomed Japanese FM Yoko Kamikawa to the meeting.
Discussed defending the rules-based international order in the Indo-Pacific and delivering on Quad commitments.
Always value our collective… pic.twitter.com/g1pDdIpQ8e
— Dr. S. Jaishankar (@DrSJaishankar) September 22, 2023
The next Quad summit is expected to be held in India, but the readout doesn’t refer to the meeting. It, however, notes that Japan will host the next in-person foreign ministers meeting in Japan.
India has sent informal feelers to all the Quad members to see if their leaders would be available to be the chief guest for the Republic Day parade. However, there is still uncertainty as Australia celebrates January 26 as the national day and Japan’s prime minister has a scheduling conflict with the parliamentary session.
The US ambassador to India Eric Garcetti confirmed that India had given an invitation to President Joe Biden, but demurred when asked about the rest of the Quad leaders. He, however, did not indicate that the invitation has been accepted so far.
The Quad, meanwhile, met in the shadow of the explosive allegation made by Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau of involvement of India in the killing of a Canadian citizen, who is described as a pro-Khalistan terrorist by the Indian government.
The US and Australia had both termed the allegations as “serious” and urged India to join the investigations.
India had dismissed the allegations as “motivated and absurd” – and termed Canada as a “safe haven for terrorists”.
On Ukraine, the Quad ministers expressed “deep concern” over the Ukraine war and urged the need for a “a comprehensive, just, and lasting peace in Ukraine in accordance with the international law, consistent with the principles of the UN Charter”.
As per norm, the four countries also said that use of nuclear weapons or the threat of use was unacceptable and called for respect of territorial integrity and sovereignty of all states. “We are deeply concerned about the global food security situation and support the efforts of the UN in the resumption of the Black Sea Grain Initiative (BSGI),” the joint readout added.