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Tillerson says quadrilateral talks an attempt to move ties with India to next level

From time to time, the other side has taken a step back from the relationship for their own reasons, the US secretary of state said on the way back from his South Asia trip.

world Updated: Oct 26, 2017 23:13 IST
Yashwant Raj
Yashwant Raj
Hindustan Times, Washington
Rex Tillerson,US secretary of state,India US relations
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson waits to be introduced before speaking to staff members at the US Mission to the UN on Thursday in Geneva, Switzerland.(AFP)

The US offer for India, Japan and Australia to be part of the four anchors of security and peace in the Indo-Pacific region was also an attempt to move relations with India to the “next level”, secretary of state Rex Tillerson told reporters on way home from his South Asia trip.

Asked if the Indian side was excited or nervous about the offer, which he first made in a speech in Washington DC, Tillerson said, “Yes, but I would be the first to acknowledge it is a new approach as well, and I think that we’ve had a – the US has had positive relations with India for 70 years but it’s never quite moved to that next level...From time to time, the other side has taken a step back from the relationship for their own reasons.”

“What we’re trying to put in place is, make the case that this needs to move to a different level and be sustained, as I said, for the next 100 years,” he added.

But his pitch in the speech and then directly to the Indians was not his first foray into that area. Tillerson said his initial conversations about it took place at the last trilateral with leaders of Japan and India. That was on the sidelines of the UN general assembly in New York in September — “just to get some reaction”.

Japan, he went on to add, understands “it probably better than anyone already, and we have talked to the Australians about participating as well. Everyone has to decide that’s the right thing to do.”

There has been more movement on the quadrilateral relationship. After Tillerson’s offer to India, during his just-concluded visit to New Delhi, to work together on an alternative to China’s One Belt, One Road initiative, reported first by Hindustan Times, Japan has proposed strategic talks with India, the United States and Australia to build ports and a network of high-speed roads across Asia an Africa to counter Beijing.

First Published: Oct 26, 2017 23:12 IST