For the first time, India, US and Japan will hold a senior official level trilateral dialogue on "regional and global issues of mutual interest" in Tokyo next month with an eye on an increasing assertive China in the South China Sea and the overall Asia-Pacific region.
The meeting is expected to take place around October 7.
Government sources said the dialogue — announced by then foreign secretary Nirupama Rao during her visit to Japan on April 7 — will involve candid exchange of views among the key players in the Indian Ocean and Asia-Pacific region and possible ways to strengthen maritime security cooperation.
Sources said the meeting will be attended by Kurt Campell, assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, Asoke Mukherji, additional secretary (Political) in the MEA and the director general of East Asia in Japanese Foreign Affairs Ministry. It is learnt that the dates for the meeting were confirmed by the three sides late evening.
While this trilateral dialogue is not directed against China, the meeting has been called to discuss shared issues such as securing shipping lanes from traditional and non-traditional threats like pirates in the Indian Ocean and South China Sea to coordinating humanitarian assistance in case of any natural disaster.
Protection of sea lanes was the key to the dialogue as more than 52% of global trade, including oil, passes through the Straits of Malacca to North Asia.
The move comes at a time when China is reaching out in the Indian Ocean and is set to acquire long legs for PLA Navy through aircraft carriers and nuclear submarines. Albeit Washington is engaging China at all levels this year, the Asia-Pacific region is concerned about Beijing’s bold moves in the region.
During the dialogue, the three officials are expected to chart the future course of cooperation between the countries with global terrorism as the key focus area.