Melbourne: External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Friday underlined the need for the four-nation Quadrilateral alliance to play a greater role in security of the Indo-Pacific, amid China flexing its military muscles in the strategic region.

“Pleasure to visit the @AIinstitute and discuss our growing relationship in a conversation with Ms. @Lisa_Singh, tweeted Jaishankar, who is visiting Australia on his first trip to the country as external affairs minister.

He will co-chair with his Australian counterpart Marise Payne the 12th India-Australia foreign ministers’ framework dialogue on Saturday.

On Friday, Jaishankar attended the 4th Quad Foreign Ministers’ Meeting along with his counterparts from Australia, Japan and the United States.

Speaking at the event India Matters at the University of Melbourne hosted by the Australia India Institute, Jaishankar discussed opportunities to foster a stronger India-Australia relationship.

In an hour-long public conversation on ‘Australia India Partnership in the Indo-Pacific’, the minister spoke of the need for the QUAD to play a greater role in the security of the Indo-Pacific region.

In November 2017, the US, Australia, India and Japan gave shape to the long-pending proposal of setting up the Quad to develop a new strategy to keep the critical sea routes in the Indo-Pacific free of any influence, amidst China’s growing military presence in the strategic region.

China claims nearly all of the disputed South China Sea, though Taiwan, the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam all claim parts of it. Beijing has built artificial islands and military installations in the South China Sea. Beijing is also involved in a maritime dispute with Japan over the East China Sea.

The Quad leaders at their first-in-person summit in Washington on September 25 hosted by US President Joe Biden had pledged to ensure a “free and open” Indo-Pacific, which is also “inclusive and resilient”, as they noted that the strategically vital region, witnessing China’s growing military manoeuvring, is a bedrock of their shared security and prosperity.

Commenting on the Quad, China has said that it was opposed to the formation of “exclusive cliques” to incite “bloc confrontation” and the four-nation alliance should stop driving wedges between regional countries.

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