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PM Modi-Yoshihide Suga talks: New supply chains central to free, open Indo-Pacific

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi and newly elected Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga agreed at their first official conversation that the “economic architecture of a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific region must be premised on resilient supply chains”. In this context, both leaders welcomed cooperation between India, Japan and other like-minded countries on developing alternate supply chains to China.

Signalling momentum in Special Strategic & Global Partnership in the post Abe period Suga and Modi held a summit over telephone little over a week after the election of new Japanese PM. The two PMs emphasised that the economic architecture of a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific region must be premised on resilient supply chains, and in this context, welcomed cooperation between India, Japan and other like-minded countries, according to a MEA statement.

Coinciding with the Modi-Suga phone call, the senior officials of India-USA-Australia-Japan or Quad held a virtual meet and underscored the importance of enhancing the resilience of supply chains. The officials reaffirmed their commitment towards a free, open, prosperous and inclusive Indo-Pacific region based on shared values and principles and respect for international law, according to a MEA statement. The four discussed measures to promote peace, security, stability and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region.

India, Japan and Australia have stated that the initiative to build resilient supply chains in the Indo-Pacific region could be launched later this year as they seek to reduce dependence on China following its hostile political and military conduct. The trio aims to create a free and transparent trade & investment environment.

According to the readout issued by the Japanese side, Suga expressed his intention to promote bilateral cooperation in the fields of security, economy and economic cooperation, and to work with India towards achieving a “Free and Open Indo-Pacific.” Suga also stated that he would like to promote cooperation in such multilateral mechanism as Japan-Australia-India-U.S. meetings, according to the Japanese statement clearly spelling out the like-minded partners.

Suga-Modi phone call happened close on the heels on the Japanese PM’s conversation with his counterpart from Australia earlier this week. This phone call raised concern in Beijing about Tokyo and Canberra forming an “iron triangle with Washington” in the Indo-Pacific. Tokyo and Canberra are working on a plan for Morrison to become the first leader to meet Suga in November.

Modi and Suga appreciated the progress made in the economic partnership between the two countries, and in this context, welcomed the finalization of the text of the agreement pertaining to specialized skilled workers. Suga will visit India for the annual bilateral summit after improvement of the situation caused by the global COVID-19 pandemic.

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