US President Donald Trump announces revival of QUAD, says working with Pakistan to counter terrorism
The United States was working productively with Pakistan to counter terrorism on its soil, US President Donald Trump said on Tuesday as he addressed a joint press conference with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi. The two leaders spoke after one-on-one talks at Hyderabad House on wide range of issues.
“In our discussions, Prime Minister Modi and I affirmed the two countries’ commitment to protecting our citizens from radical Islamic terrorism. The United States is also working productively with Pakistan to confront terrorists who operate on its soil,” said Trump.
“Together, the Prime Minister and I are revitalising the QUAD initiative - with the US, India, Australia and Japan. Since I took office, we have held the first QUAD ministerial meeting, and expanded cooperation on counter-terrorism, cyber security and maritime security to ensure a free and open Indo-Pacific,” the US President added.
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India, Australia, Japan and the US revived the QUAD (short for Quadrilateral Security Dialogue) in November 2017 as part of efforts to keep key sea routes in the Indo-Pacific free of any influence. China is seeking to exert its influence in the region with its multibillion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative.
First mentioned during a speech by Chinese President Xi Jinping’s to university students in Kazakhstan in 2013, China’s Belt and Road plan is a vehicle for the Asian country to take a greater role on the international stage by funding and building global transport and trade links in more than 60 countries.
The US and the other three countries had come together to provide humanitarian assistance after the Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had then suggested that they form the QUAD, which met three years later.
The meetings stopped for a decade after China formally reached out to each country to seek information on the purpose of the meetings.
The QUAD met again in 2017 and the Ministry of External Affairs said they addressed “issues of common interest” such as terrorism and “proliferation linkages impacting the region”.
Although President Trump defined the Indo-Pacific as a region spanning Hollywood to Bollywood, more and more countries including the US are now aligned to PM Modi’s geographical vision of the Indo-Pacific - from the eastern shores of Africa to the western shores of the US - with ASEAN, or the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, as an anchor.
Trump said he also discussed with PM Modi, whom he called his “dear friend”, the importance of a secure 5G telecoms network in India, ahead of a planned airwaves auction by the country.
The United States has banned Huawei, arguing the use of its kit creates the potential for espionage by China - a claim denied by Huawei and Beijing - but India, where telecoms companies have long used network gear from the Chinese firm, is yet to make a call.