5 March 2024

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Quad Foreign Ministers Address Terrorism and Maritime Issues

New Delhi: The Quad foreign ministers revised their commitment to combating terrorism in “all its forms and manifestations” and asked for adherence to UNCLOS in resolving “maritime claims” in the South and East China seas.

On the fringes of the UN General Assembly, the foreign ministers of India, the United States, Japan, and Australia met on Friday and released a joint readout in which they reaffirmed their commitments on a variety of topics ranging from the Indo-Pacific to terrorism and Ukraine.

S. Jaishankar, India’s External Affairs Minister, arrived in New York on Friday to begin a week of meetings at the UN’s annual jamboree.

According to the joint statement, the Quad Ministers emphasised that “international law, respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, and the maintenance of peace and security in the maritime domain underpin the Indo-Pacific’s development and prosperity.”

The Quad emphasised the necessity of adhering to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) to address maritime claims in the South and East China Seas, calling for peaceful resolution of issues.

“We emphasise the importance of adhering to international law, particularly as reflected in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), to address challenges to the global maritime rules-based order, including with respect to maritime claims and in the South and East China Seas.”

The wording is substantially identical to the one in the Quad Leaders’ joint statement from May, with the exception of the newly included phrase “including with respect to maritime claims.”

Earlier in June, India reversed its position and asked for adherence to the Arbitral Tribunal’s 2016 judgement, which rejected China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea. The UN Convention on the Law of the Sea established the Arbitral Tribunal.

This shift in posture was underlined in the joint statement released by India and the Philippines following the sixth Joint Commission on Bilateral Cooperation meeting.

The organisation is also “committed to countering terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, including preventing the international and cross-border movement of terrorists and countering terror finance networks and safe havens,” according to the joint press statement.

Quad Foreign Ministers’ Unified Stance

The Quad Ministers also “emphasised the need for a comprehensive and balanced approach to effectively curb terrorist activities through national and international community efforts.”

The next Quad Summit is planned to be held in India, but the readout makes no mention of it. It does, however, mention that Japan will host the next in-person gathering of foreign ministers.

India has made informal invitations to all Quad members to check whether their leaders are available to be the principal guest at the Republic Day parade. However, there is still uncertainty because Australia celebrates its national day on January 26 and Japan’s prime leader has a schedule clash with the legislative session.

The US ambassador to India, Eric Garcetti, said that India has extended an invitation to President Joe Biden but would to comment on the other Quad leaders.

Meanwhile, the Quad gathered under the shadow of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s bombshell claim that India was involved in the execution of a Canadian citizen, who the Indian government describes as a pro-Khalistan terrorist.

The United States and Australia both called the charges “serious” and asked India to cooperate with the probes.

India slammed the charges as “motivated and absurd,” branding Canada a “safe haven for terrorists.”

Concerning Ukraine, the Quad Ministers voiced “deep concern” over the conflict and emphasised the importance of achieving “a comprehensive, just, and lasting peace in Ukraine in accordance with international law, consistent with the principles of the UN Charter.”

The four countries also stated that the use of nuclear weapons or the threat of using them was unacceptable and demanded that other governments maintain their territorial integrity and sovereignty. “We are deeply concerned about the global food security situation and support the United Nations’ efforts to restart the Black Sea Grain Initiative (BSGI),” the joint statement continued.

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