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The government on Friday rejected reports of any new developments in Doklam or its vicinity. New Delhi also said it was open to suggestions of Australia being part of the ‘quad’ in the Asia-Pacific, which is seen as an alliance to counter China’s influence in the region. “I would like to reiterate that there is no new development at the face-off site and its vicinity since the August 28 disengagement,” External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said, when asked about a media report that China had increased its military presence in areas close to Doklam. “Status quo prevails in the area and any suggestion to the contrary is incorrect and mischievous,” said Kumar. India and China were locked in a 73-day-long military stand-off in Doklam from June 16 to August 28 in the area. On whether Australia should be part of the US-India-Japan trilateral, New Delhi said it was open to working with like-minded countries on issues that advance its interests and promote the Indian viewpoint. On Thursday, Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono had told the Nikkei Business Daily that Japan would propose a dialogue with the US, India and Australia. “We are not rigid in this regard,” the external affairs ministry Spokesperson said. On October 18, in a speech US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had commented about the gains of the trilateral India-Japan-US cooperation, with the need to include Australia as well.
Until now, India has been lukewarm to the idea of Australia’s inclusion.However, India is participating in several such trilateral forums. “Because of our broad acceptability as a country, there are a number of such initiatives which are trilateral in nature. For example, we did the trilateral meeting with Russia and China on the topic of Asia-Pacific last year. We also do an India-Sri Lanka-Maldives trilateral on security matters,” he said. Kumar said the India-US-Japan trilateral has been happening for many years, and referred to the recent India-Japan-Australia trilateral. He said India was also part of India-Afghanistan-Iran trilateral and was looking to hold the India-US-Afghanistan meeting.