AUKUS 'Complements' Quad: Australian PM Says India Backs the New Trilateral Pact After Meeting Modi
Beijing has hit out at Washington for allegedly inciting an arms race in the Indo-Pacific region in the wake of the US, Australia, and the UK announcing the trilateral security pact AUKUS earlier this month. Under AUKUS, Australia will acquire at least eight advanced nuclear-powered submarines.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Friday said that the AUKUS trilateral partnership was "completely complementary" to the four-nation "Quadrilateral Security Dialogue" while addressing journalists after he met with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi.
"He [Modi] certainly sees it in that way, as does Yoshi Suga [Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga], when I spoke to him last week and I'll see him tomorrow morning. The Quad partners understand the need for positive contributions to regional stability and the AUKUS partnership is all about making that sort of contribution", said Morrison.
"Everybody gains from a stable Indo-Pacific, everybody gains, including whether it's in China, Japan, Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia, we all benefit from a stable Indo-Pacific", Morrison further remarked.
The Australian PM was responding to a question on whether the AUKUS pact would "influence" discussions at the first-ever in-person Quad Leaders Summit slated to take place at the White House on 24 September. The Quad grouping is comprised of Australia, India, Japan, and the United States. Beijing has described the "Quad" as an "Asian NATO".
Both AUKUS and the Quad cater to upholding a "free" and "open" Indo-Pacific region amid concerns expressed by US-led western allies and countries like India about China's rise in the region.
Beijing is currently involved in maritime disputes with several of its ASEAN neighbours in the South China Sea and Japan in the East China Sea. The People's Liberation Army is also embroiled in a more than year-old standoff with the Indian Army along the disputed Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh
between the two Asian powerhouses.
The Australian PM additionally claimed during the presser that he had informed Prime Minister Modi about the AUKUS pact on the eve of making it public.
Morrison's remarks come days after India claimed that AUKUS doesn't have any relevance on the Quad.
"Let me make it clear that, you know, the Quad and AUKUS are not groupings of a similar nature…", India's Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla said on 21 September, while addressing a question whether the AUKUS alliance would "dilute the agenda" of the Quad.
"The Quad has adopted a positive proactive agenda, with as I said a wide range of initiatives at the global level, to address some of the issues of the day. This includes dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, including the supply of vaccines to the Indo-Pacific region, it includes working on new and emerging technologies, it includes working on issues like climate change, infrastructure, maritime security, education, humanitarian assistance, and disaster relief", remarked the Indian foreign secretary.
"On the other hand, AUKUS is 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 also said.