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Senior officials from the US, Japan, India and Australia are discussing establishing a joint infrastructure plan, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said, amid reports it could act as a counterweight to China’s Belt and Road Initiative.
The officials have discussed “a range of opportunities and challenges,” Bishop said in a Sky News interview on Monday. “There is an enormous need for infrastructure, particularly in our region.”
While not identifying President Xi Jinping’s plan to build or upgrade a network of highways, railways, ports and pipelines, Bishop said that any new “infrastructure initiative need not be at the expense of any other initiative.”
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is expected to discuss the idea when he visits Washington this week for talks with President Donald Trump, the Australian Financial Review reported on Monday, citing a senior US official it didn’t identify. The plan was nascent and no announcement was imminent, the newspaper cited the official as saying.
Senior foreign affairs officials from the four nations met in November “to discuss a shared vision for increased prosperity and security in the Indo-Pacific region and to work together to ensure it remains free and open,” according to Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.