With a three-way fist-bump, JAI trilateral goes annual
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, US President Donald Trump and Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe started their trilateral in Osaka, with a three-way fist-bump and ended with an announcement to meet once every year, taking another step towards formalizing a fledging platform aimed to promoting a free and open Indo-Pacific. The trilateral has been christened JAI by PM Modi using the first letters of the names of the three countries.
This was the second meeting of the forum, which was inaugurated on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 2018. The three countries have been meeting regularly for years now at the level of officials — nine years now — and of foreign ministers, usually around the UNGA.
The summit-level meeting started 2018 on the sidelines of the G-20 in Buenos Aires Argentina, which is where Modi had christened the platform “JAI”. He used it again in his opening remarks with the two leaders and said on Twitter, “Today’s meeting of the JAI Trilateral was a productive one. We had extensive discussions on the Indo-Pacific region, improving connectivity and infrastructure development.”
The US said in a readout of the trilateral, “The leaders agreed to meet annually and to ensure successful cooperation in multiple areas, including maritime security, quality infrastructure, and advancing peace and prosperity in the Indian Ocean and Pacific region and beyond.”
And a US official, who briefed reporters on background, echoed it: “All three countries promote a free and open Indo-Pacific region.”
“Free and open Indo-Pacific” is a phrase used often by the JAI countries to describe their shared objective to stave off growing Chinese influence and aggression in the region.
The Indian external affairs spokesperson Raveesh Kumar also highlighted the Indo-Pacific in a tweet, following the prime ministers lead, “Discussion focused on how the 3 countries can together work together towards an open, stable & rule-based Indo-Pacific region.”
The American official also said that the planned topics of discussions included “strong naval cooperation,” following up on a recent joint exercise in the South China sea.
India, the United States and Japan together with the Philippines conducted the first-ever joint exercise in the South China Sea past May called a sail through. The ships sailed from Busan, South Korea, to Singapore as part of an ongoing international commitment, the US had said then ‘to protect trade routes and ensure economic security in the free and open Indo-Pacific region.”
The growing trilateral relationship got a new start in Osaka, courtesy the American leader. A White House pool report said that when the three leaders were asked to shake hands for the customary photo-op at the start of their meeting, Trump initiated a three-way fist-bump.
In remarks before the meeting, Abe called the three countries the “foundation of peace and prosperity in the region” and thanked “Donald and Prime Minister Modi”
Trump congratulated Modi on his recent re-election. He had called the Indian leader after the election to congratulate him and had in a call after the second trilateral as announced.