New Delhi: India on Tuesday (September 21) asserted that the four-nation QUAD that includes India as well and the AUKUS, the trilateral security alliance between Australia, the United Kingdom, and the US, are not similar.
Foreign Secretary Harsh V Shringla told reporters here that the Quad has a group of countries with a "shared vision" of their attributes and values. "This also has a shared vision of the Indo Pacific as a free, open transparent and inclusive region," he said, adding the Quad has also adopted a "positive and proactive agenda" with a wide range of initiatives at the global level.
On the other hand, he said AUKUS is only a security alliance between three countries.
"We are not party to this alliance. From our perspective, this is neither relevant to the Quad nor will it have any impact on its functioning," Shringla said.
He dismissed as 'hypothetical' a question on whether India would join AUKUS if invited. The Foreign Secretary was briefing journalists on Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to the US, where he will attend the first Quad Summit in-person to be hosted by US President Joe Biden and will also be participated by Prime Ministers of Japan and Australia.
"PM Modi will participate in the COVID-19 Global Summit hosted by US President Biden. PM Modi,-US President bilateral meeting will also feature current regional security situation following developments in Afghanistan. We would discuss the need to stem radicalisation, extremism, cross-border terrorism and dismantling of global terror networks," the Foreign Secretary said.
He said the Quad caters to a wide range of issues, including maritime security, education, climate change and even the COVID-19 pandemic. On September 15, the heads of government of Australia, the UK and the US announced a trilateral security pact called AUKUS. It apparently aimed at dealing with rapidly evolving threats. This was largely seen referring to China, and hence Foreign Secretary's statement has a significance of its own.
On the bilateral meeting between PM Modi and President Biden on September 24, he said both the leaders would review the India-US relations.
"They are expected to discuss how to bolster trade and investment ties, strengthen defence and security collaborations boost clean energy partnership among others," he said.
To a question, he said in his address to the UN General Assembly on September 25 in New York, Prime Minister Modi will mention the need for UN reforms. He pointed out that while India celebrates Amrit Mahotsav, the UN also coincidentally completes 75 years of its existence.
A high-level delegation will accompany the Prime Minister, including External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar and NSA Ajit Doval.
The Foreign Secretary said the bilateral trade between India and the US has grown $ 149 billion in 2019.
"There is scope to take that even higher," he remarked, adding in the defence sector too, both the countries had several exchanges.
"We are now preparing for Army-Naval exercises," he said and pointed out that the Malabar exercise is already on, wherein even Australia is a participant.
Mr Shringla said the Prime Minister's US visit is "expected to give momentum and provide directions to some of the important bilateral mechanisms."