Last Updated: February 04, 2024, 21:33 IST
Quad is a diplomatic partnership between four countries – Australia, India, Japan, and the US. (Image: AFP)
The Quad, a diplomatic partnership between four countries Australia, India, Japan, and the United States went into cold storage after protests from China
Former foreign secretary Shyam Saran said the US, which persuaded India on the formation of the Quad alliance, had wanted the then prime minister Manmohan Singh to ask his Japanese counterpart to not encourage the diplomatic alliance focussed on the Indo-Pacific region.
Speaking here at the 17th edition of the Jaipur Literature Festival (JLF) on Saturday, Saran said the US explained its position on the Quad saying it needed to have China on its side on the issue of Iran and North Korea’s nuclear programmes and had argued that neither the Chinese nor the Russians were very happy with the Quad.
The Quad, a diplomatic partnership between four countries Australia, India, Japan, and the United States went into cold storage after protests from China. It was reinstated in 2017, after a gap of 10 years, in the face of China’s growing assertiveness in world affairs.
“What happened was before our PM Dr Manmohan Singh’s visit to Tokyo for an official visit, I was contacted by our American friends and we were told, ’Please tell your PM not to encourage Abe (the then Japanese PM) on the Quad. He would like to push this forward. This is not the time we should be doing this,” Saran said.
Saran, who was the foreign secretary between 2004 and 2006, made the remarks during a session titled ’Heart of the Matter: Quad and the new Indo-Pacific Vision’ at the JLF on Saturday.
Surprised by the US stance, Saran said he asked two things to the US official: Japan is your ally, why don’t you talk to them yourself? and You are the ones who persuaded us that this was a great platform to be on, why are you now trying to step back.
Saran said the US official replied: We need the Chinese today because we have the Iran nuclear issue before the UNSC. “We also have the North Korea six-party talks that we are trying to revive… It is not that we are stepping back but for the time being let us wait. To which Saran said he replied, It was your (US) initiative. You don’t think it is convenient at this point of time, so be it.”
The origins of the Quad lie in the devastating 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, when the four countries formed the Tsunami Core Group to coordinate the emergency response and humanitarian assistance. In subsequent years, there were efforts to institutionalise it into the Quad alliance, which was led by late Shinzo Abe during his first term as prime minister of Japan from 2006 to 2007.
The US Ambassador to India Eric Garcetti, who was among the panellists discussing the topic, did not directly respond to Saran’s remarks but said the present and the history we are writing is more important to him than past events.
“My president whose first engagement of all the countries, of all the institutions bilateral, trilateral, quadrilateral he engaged in was the Quad in Washington D.C. where he hosted the three national leaders (from India, Japan, Australia). And that was a very powerful turn for us. So history is interesting to me but not that interesting to me… the history we are writing is not only fascinating, it is deep,” he added.
Saran said he had no doubt that China was the “cement which holds the Quad alliance together, and added that Beijing, which first called the Quad ‘some fluff on the ocean wave’, won’t call it the same anymore as the group today has acquired ”substance.”
“Maybe it is not against China, but it has certainly been made more crystallised as a result of a common sense amongst all our partners that the balance of power in the – what we call the Indo-Pacific – has been changing against us. And therefore if we do not work together this balance is going to get worse,” the 78-year-old career diplomat said.
(This story has not been edited by News18 staff and is published from a syndicated news agency feed – PTI)