Buenos Aires: Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to voice India’s firm commitment to make the Indo-Pacific a region for shared economic growth during the first trialateral meeting between him, US President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe here on Friday. The first of its kind meeting between Modi, Trump and Abe will take place on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in the capital of Argentina, amidst China flexing its muscles in the strategic Indo-Pacific region. White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said the trilateral meeting with Prime Minister Modi will be held towards the end of the Trump-Abe bilateral talks.
Sources said Modi, Trump and Abe – as the leaders of major democracies, are expected to emphasise the importance of cooperation among the three countries on all major issues of global and multilateral interests such as connectivity, sustainable development, counter-terrorism, maritime and cyber security. During the meeting, the three leaders are expected to share their views on progressing a free, open, conclusive and rule-based order in the Indo-Pacific region, based on respect for international law and peaceful resolution of all differences.
The trilateral will take place at a time when China is engaged in hotly contested territorial disputes in the South China Sea, and with Japan in the East China Sea. Both the areas are said to be rich in minerals, oil and other natural resources. China claims almost all of the South China Sea. Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan have overlapping claims in the waterway, which includes vital sea lanes through which about USD 3 trillion in global trade passes each year.
The US has been conducting regular patrols in the South China Sea to assert freedom of navigation in the area where Beijing has built up and militarised many of the islands and reefs it controls in the region. Prime Minister Modi, in his keynote address at the Shangri La Dialogue in Singapore in June expounded India’s stand on the strategic Indo-Pacific region. “India does not see the Indo-Pacific Region as a strategy or as a club of limited members. Nor as a grouping that seeks to dominate. And by no means do we consider it as directed against any country. A geographical definition, as such, cannot be,” he had said.
“India stands for open and stable international trade regime. We will also support rule-based, open, balanced and stable trade environment in the Indo-Pacific region, which lifts up all nations on the tide of trade and investment,” he said while explaining New Delhi’s stand. During the trilateral meeting in Buenos Aires, Prime Minister Modi is expected to underscore India’s firm commitment to making the Indo-Pacific a region for shared economic growth and common prosperity, the sources said. He is expected to articulate five action points that would serve the common interest of promoting peace and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region, they said.
Prime Minister is expected to highlight the importance of working jointly in areas such as connectivity, sustainable development, disaster relief, maritime security and unfettered mobility. He is also set to underline the importance of building consensus on an architecture in the Indo-Pacific region based on the principles of mutual benefit and respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, the sources said. The three leaders are likely to agree to cooperate in various ways and together with other countries. They are set to agree on the importance of meeting in “Trilateral Format” at multilateral conferences, the sources said.