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Foreign ministers of Quad expected to affirm importance of free and open Indo-Pacific

The upcoming meeting of the foreign ministers of the Quad or Quadrilateral coalition is expected to collectively affirm the importance of a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific in the backdrop of growing Chinese assertiveness in the region.

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar will join his counterparts from Australia, Japan and the US in the meeting which is scheduled to take place on October 6 in Tokyo.

"The foreign ministers are expected to collectively affirm the importance of a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific," Spokesperson in the Ministry of External Affairs Anurag Srivastava said at a media briefing.

He said there will also be a discussion on regional issues.

"The agenda will be broadly focused on the post-COVID-19 international order as well as the need for coordinating responses to the challenges emerging from the pandemic," Srivastava said.

Last week, the MEA announced Jaishankar's visit to Tokyo to attend the meeting of the foreign ministers of the four countries as well as to hold talks with his Japanese counterpart Toshimitsu Motegi.

The MEA said Jaishankar will also hold bilateral consultations with the foreign ministers of Australia and the US during the visit to Japan.

Senior officials of the Quad member nations also held a virtual meeting last week focusing on ways to promote peace, security, stability and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region.

In November 2017, the four countries gave shape to the long-pending proposal of setting up the "Quad" to develop a new strategy to keep the critical sea routes in the Indo-Pacific free of any influence.

The first meeting of foreign ministers of the four countries under the 'Quad' framework had taken place in New York in September 2019.

India is also expanding bilateral cooperation with Japan, the US and Australia in the Indo-Pacific region.

On its part, the US has been pushing for a greater role for India in the Indo-Pacific which is seen by many countries as an effort to contain China's growing clout in the region.

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