Senior officials of India, Australia, Japan and the United States met at Singapore on Thursday and held consultations on regional and global issues of common interest, amid China flexing its muscles in the strategic Indo-Pacific region.
The discussions focused on cooperation in areas such as connectivity, sustainable development, counter-terrorism, non-proliferation and maritime and cyber security, with a view to promoting peace, stability and prosperity in an increasingly inter-connected Indo-Pacific region that the four countries share with each other and with other partners, the Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement in New Delhi.
The participants -- officials from the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Australia, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan and Department of State of the United States of America -- reaffirmed the ASEAN centrality as the cornerstone of a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific, it said.
India, the US and several other world powers have been talking about the need to ensure a free, open and thriving Indo-Pacific in the backdrop of China's rising military manoeuvring in the region.
In November last year, India, the US, Australia and Japan gave shape to the long-pending Quadrilateral coalition to develop a new strategy to keep the critical sea routes in the Indo-Pacific free of Chinese influence.
The US is periodically deploying its naval ships and fighter planes to assert freedom of navigation.
In the Singapore meeting on Thursday, all the four countries agreed to partner with other countries and forums in the region to promote a free, open, rules-based and inclusive order in the Indo-Pacific region that fosters trust and confidence, the MEA statement said.
They committed to strengthening connectivity and quality infrastructure based on sovereignty, equality and territorial integrity of all nations, as well as transparency, economic viability and financial responsibility, it said.
The officials also exchanged views on recent developments in the regional situation and agreed to continue the consultations, the statement added.