US calls for expansion of QUAD, saying like minded countries must join hands to ensure free and open Indo-Pacific

US Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun has called for expansion of Quad, saying like-minded countries and groupings must join hands to ensure a free and open Indo-Pacific.

Addressing the India-US forum in New Delhi, he said, the coalition can be extended to broader areas of shared interests and with other like-minded partners seeking a free and open Indo-Pacific.

Biegun said, in Southeast Asia, Quad partners can deepen engagement with 10-nation ASEAN grouping, cooperate in defending freedom of the seas, and work together in governance, health, environmental protection and transparent data sharing.

He said Quad is a partnership driven by shared interests, not binding obligations, and is not intended to be an exclusive grouping.

Biegun said, any country that seeks a free and open Indo-Pacific and is willing to take steps to ensure that should be welcome to work with us.

The foreign ministers of Quad comprising the US, India, Australia and Japan met in Tokyo on October 6 during which they agreed to deepen cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region.

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and US Deputy Secretary of State held talks on bilateral, regional and key global issues with a focus on the common vision of the two countries for the Indo-Pacific region.

Biegun arrived in New Delhi on Monday on a three-day visit primarily to finalise the groundwork for the third edition of two-plus-two dialogue between the two countries later this month.

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