Ukraine discussed, but Indo-Pacific remains core focus of Quad's agenda: MEA

New Delhi: India on Friday said Indo-Pacific remained the core focus of the Quad even if the situation in Ukraine was discussed at a meeting of the leaders of the coalition.

Leaders of the Quad Prime Minister Narendra Modi, US President Joe Biden, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and their Japanese counterpart Fumio Kishida held a virtual meeting on Thursday that saw a discussion on the Ukraine crisis.

A joint readout released by the White House said the Quad leaders discussed the ongoing conflict and humanitarian crisis in Ukraine besides assessing its broader implications .

External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said at a media briefing that it is natural for leaders, having such good rapport among themselves, to discuss topical issues when they meet.

As you saw from the readouts, Ukraine was discussed naturally. But let me just emphasise the Indo-Pacific remains the core focus of the Quad’s agenda and you will see that coming in terms of positive activities, initiatives and efforts all four countries are making, he said.

Bagchi said the message at the meeting was very clear that although there is a crisis in Ukraine, all four countries were trying to take forward the agenda of the Quad that was firmed up at an in-person summit of the leaders of the coalition in Washington last September.

From our perspective, while of course there’s a very serious situation…in Ukraine, it’s not as though challenges in other parts of the world have vanished, he said.

In the Indo-Pacific, the challenge is there and the agenda that the leaders of these four countries have signed up to, that is…Indo-Pacific being at the core of the Quad’s agenda is something that they want to push ahead with, he said.

In his remarks at the virtual meeting, Prime Minister Narendra Modi called for a return to a path of dialogue and diplomacy in defusing the crisis in Ukraine.

They (Quad leaders) agreed to stand up a new humanitarian assistance and disaster relief mechanism which will enable the Quad to meet future humanitarian challenges in the Indo-Pacific and provide a channel for communication as they each address and respond to the crisis in Ukraine, the joint readout stated.

It said the Quad leaders agreed to meet in person in Tokyo in the coming months.

An Indian statement said, Developments in Ukraine were discussed in the meeting, including its humanitarian implications. The prime minister emphasised the need to return to a path of dialogue and diplomacy.

Modi underlined that the Quad must remain focused on its core objective of promoting peace, stability and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region and he also reiterated the importance of adhering to the United Nations Charter, international law, and respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, it said.

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