NEW DELHI: Close on the heels of the Indo-Japan summit, which saw the two countries calling for a rules-based order in the Indo-Pacific, India and Japan along with the US again sought to address concerns over China’s OBOR+ saying that connectivity initiatives must not undermine sovereignty and territorial integrity. Foreign minister Sushma Swaraj had a ministerial trilateral with US secretary of state Rex Tillerson and the Japanese foreign minister, Taro Kono, on the sidelines of UNGA on Monday in which, according to a statement by MEA, views on maritime security, connectivity and proliferation issues were exchanged. With the US and Japan exhorting India to play a more meaningful role in ensuring full implementation of UN sanctions on North Korea, Swaraj reiterated India’s condemnation of Pyongyang’s recent actions and stated that its proliferation linkages be explored and those responsible be held accountable. This is seen as another oblique reference to Pakistan and China after the India-Japan joint statement, issued after Modi-Abe summit in Gandhinagar, which had expressed the same sentiment. The security situation in South China Sea too was discussed in the meeting with the two ministers emphasising that the need for ensuring freedom of navigation, respect for international law and peaceful resolution of disputes. “On connectivity initiatives, the importance of basing them on universally recognised international norms, prudent financing and respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity was underlined,” said the MEA statement, adding that the three ministers directed their senior officials to explore practical steps to enhance cooperation.
The trilateral follows the India-Japan summit+ which was dedicated to efforts by the two countries to address the security situation in the Indo-Pacific and to align Japan’s free and open Indo-Pacific strategy with India’s Act East. The India-Japan joint statement pledged to enhance maritime security cooperation, improve connectivity in the wider Indo-Pacific region, strengthen cooperation with ASEAN and to promote discussions between strategists and experts of the two countries.
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