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India, US, Japan trilateral takes off

world Updated: Dec 24, 2011 01:19 IST
Yashwant Raj
Yashwant Raj
Hindustan Times
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Is the India-US-Japan trilateral finally off the ground?

India, Japan and the United States held their first trilateral meeting here last Monday and institutionalised it, announcing plans to meet in 2012, in Tokyo. The meeting was attended by officials from the three countries. But here is its importance: The fact that it finally took place.

Talks about it started in 2006, mostly on non-official Track II. Former ambassadors Kuldeep Sehdev and HK Singh represented India, former US deputy of state Richard Armitage represented the US and Japan was represented by rail chief Yoshiyuki Kasai.

“These discussions mark the beginning of a series of consultations among our three governments, who share common values and interests across Asia-Pacific and the globe,” said a statement issued by three sides.

The note didn’t reveal more. Was China discussed? There was no official word on it. But a Track II discussion in August, which determined the talking points, gave China top priority.

But would China be central to the talks? “China would be discussed but discussion is not equal to containment,” said former US assistant secretary of state Karl Inderfurth, now with centre for strategic international studies, which hosted the August Track II.

Addressing reporters along with Japanese foreign minister Koichiro Gemba, US secretary of state Clinton said she agreed to a suggestion for a trilateral with Japan and China mooted by Gemba in a speech in Tokyo — hours before the one with India.