Washington, DC – A trilateral meeting hosted by Delhi earlier this month is throwing its long shadows on the meeting when the US hosts Japan’s prime minister this week.
On April 4, 2018, the United States, India, and Japan held the 9th Trilateral Meeting at Assistant Secretary/Joint Secretary/Director General-level in New Delhi to hold consultations on regional and global issues of mutual interest, according to the official joint statement released by the participants.
Although the statement noted that the all sides, “agreed to continue to collaborate to promote increased connectivity in the Indo-Pacific” and “to remain engaged and strengthen cooperation in support of a free, open, prosperous, peaceful, and inclusive Indo-Pacific region through partnership with countries in the region,” it was also a preparatory meeting for the upcoming summit.
Without going into details, the statement noted, “the officials explored practical steps to enhance cooperation in the areas of connectivity and infrastructure development; counter-proliferation; counterterrorism; maritime security, maritime domain awareness, and humanitarian assistance/disaster response.”
According to reliable sources here, the US officials are making sure that Tokyo and Delhi are on the same wavelength with Washington as it engages Beijing in open trade wars and subtle monitoring of maritime security in the South China Sea.
As per the joint statement, “All sides agreed to remain engaged and strengthen cooperation in support of a free, open, prosperous, peaceful, and inclusive Indo-Pacific region through partnership with countries in the region.”
President Donald J Trump is scheduled to host visiting Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for the second time at his Mar-a-Lago residence in Florida on April 17 and 18.
“The visit is primarily an opportunity for the two leaders to continue their close coordination on North Korea, and to exchange views on the way forward for a summit between President Trump and the leader of North Korea,” a senior Trump administration official told journalists.
Answering questions, the official told journalists that the issue of freedom of navigation in the South China Sea will come up during the talks. “It is really a matter of international concern when artificial features in the South China Sea are militarized, as we’ve seen happen incrementally over the course of a number of years now,” the official said.
According to the officials, the main topics are likely to include the US and Japan’s shared priorities across the Indo-Pacific region, including how the two countries can work together to ensure universal access to affordable energy, high-quality trade and investment standards, freedom of the seas, respect for human rights and international laws, and in short, really, how to ensure a free and open Indo-Pacific. The US-Japan summit meeting between President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe would focus on the upcoming North Korea talks and the efforts of the two countries to maintain a free and independent Indo-Pacific region, senior administration officials said.
The meeting includes one-on-one and delegation level talks at the end of which the two leaders are scheduled to address a joint press conference.
“The President has a great deal of respect for Prime Minister Abe’s views on Northeast Asian security. He will certainly want to know what additional thoughts Prime Minister Abe has beyond those that he’s already shared, because they’ve been in constant contact in recent weeks, since President Trump accepted an invitation to meet with Kim Jong-un. They will go into some detail for sure on that,” the official said.
Abe would leave the US on April 19.