New Delhi: With China and Russia coming closer, the US has planned to “enhance cooperation, engagement, strategic and economic ties” with its Quad partners. Sources told The Sunday Guardian that as part of this strategy, several top officials of the Biden administration will hold intense interactions and meetings with their counterparts from India, Australia and Japan. Sources quoting Indian diplomats posted in Washington told this newspaper that the US administration has prepared a “comprehensive and effective plan to ramp up economic activities and strategic engagement in the Indo-Pacific in view of growing Chinese influence”. The US diplomats and officials will be on the job to ensure that the plan to enhance strategic partnership with the Quad countries is implemented properly.
“US President Joe Biden has sent his closest aides as ambassadors to the Quad nations—India, Japan and Australia—with clear instructions to achieve the strategic Indo-Pacific goals set by Washington,” sources say. Biden’s trusted friend Eric Garcetti, US ambassador to India, is said to have fixed meetings with Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh. He will discuss with all of them the ways to go ahead with the same strategic plan. Similarly, US President’s confidant Rahm Emanuel, as ambassador to Japan, met with the Japanese Prime Minister as well as the Foreign Minister in Tokyo. Caroline Kennedy has been sent to Canberra as US ambassador to Australia. She will meet EAM Jais- hankar on the sidelines of the Quad meeting in Melbourne.
All the ambassadors have the agenda of discussing and implementing the US strategy with Quad nations, sources said. “This clearly signals that the Quad grouping is going to give more muscle and power to the Indo-Pacific alliance,” say sources. “The US President seeks to bolster cooperation in the Indo-Pacific to counter China’s military and economic rises. With this agenda on mind, President Biden has sent his envoys with tasks clearly cut out for them,” says a diplomat.
The Biden administration is said to have asked its officials to set a date immediately for the next India-US 2+2 dialogue which is to be held in Washington. Indian Foreign and Defence Ministers will be visiting Washington to meet and discuss strategic and other relevant issues with their US counterparts. Moreover, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is going to hold a bilateral meeting with External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar in Melbourne next week during the Quad Foreign Ministers’ Ministerial Meeting. The key message that the US Secretary will take with him is that partnerships deliver, “there is no greater global partnership than what we are trying to accomplish through the Quad with Australia, India, and Japan”. “It’s through this partnership that we’re strengthening the security environment in the region to push back against aggression and coercion. And it will be through this partnership that we help support global economic recovery,” says a US official. Blinken will visit Fiji on 12 February, where he will meet with Pacific Island leaders to discuss ways to further “the shared commitment to democracy, regional solidarity, and prosperity in the Pacific”. As part of Biden’s strategic agenda, Blinken will meet Fiji Prime Minister Josaia Voreqe “Frank” Bainimarama to discuss deepening bilateral engagement and ways to advance “a free and open Indo-Pacific”.