A new QUAD? India, Israel, UAE and the US focus on maritime coop, expansion of economic & political ties

By: |
October 19, 2021 6:38 PM

The virtual meeting was initiated by the Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, when he was visiting Washington on October 13, 2021.

At the end of the meeting Jaishankar described the discussions as “fruitful” in a tweet.

Deepening of maritime cooperation, enhancing connectivity, transport and digital infrastructure topped the agenda of the first virtual meeting of foreign ministers of India, UAE, the US and Israel. The virtual meeting was initiated by the Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, when he was visiting Washington on October 13, 2021.

The visit of external Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar to Israel and the Abraham Accords notwithstanding, India’s excellent bilateral relations with the countries in the region including sworn enemies Iran, Saudi Arabia and Israel have been a remarkable success story of India’s foreign policy. India cooperates with these countries in diverse fields including a robust strategic defence and security relationship with some of these.

The meeting which took place on Tuesday (Oct 18, 2021) built on the momentum created by the Abraham Accords of last year, which is expected to help in normalizing relations with the Arab states. The “new QUAD’’ at the end agreed to create an International Forum for Economic Cooperation and also to appoint senior level professionals for the Joint Working Groups in the areas of interests identified by them. The ministers of the four nations are planning to meet later this year in-person at Expo-2000 going on in Dubai.

“The meeting is being hailed as a breakthrough and a consolidation of the security alignments in the region that began with the Abraham Accords that four Arab countries – UAE, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco signed with Israel and normalised their relations with that country,” opines Commodore Anil Jai Singh, Vice President of the Indian Maritime Foundation.

According to the former submariner, “West Asia looms large on India’s horizon though the focus over the last few years has been the east. It is the source of 60% of India‘s oil and gas and the remittances from the large Indian Diaspora in the region is the largest contributor to India’s healthy foreign exchange reserves. India cannot afford to jeopardize either. It is therefore not only important for India to be engaged with this region but also to ensure that the regional stability and security is maintained. Countries such as the UAE and Israel are oases of stability in a region that is a simmering cauldron of political volatility, internecine warfare and state supported insurgencies.”

Who was present in the virtual meet?

External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar who is currently visiting Israel joined from there along with his Israeli counterpart Yair Lapid from Jerusalem. UAE foreign minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan from Abu Dhabi and the US secretary of state Antony Blinken from Washington DC.

At the end of the meeting Jaishankar described the discussions as “fruitful” in a tweet.

Foreign Minister of Israel in his tweet said, “The synergy between the four countries will help them work together on infrastructure, transport, maritime security and other issues.”

According to him the key to success is moving from a “government-to-government’’ to a “business-to-business’’ approach is the way forward.

Ned Price, the US State Department spokesperson, said in a statement that the foreign ministers of the four countries had “discussed expanding political and economic cooperation in the Middle East and Asia. Including through increasing maritime security, combating climate change, energy cooperation, and trade.”

In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic the four countries discussed ways to support public health, people to people ties in science and technology too. The US Secretary of State during talks also reiterated the Biden administration’s “support for Abraham Accords and normalisation agreements.”

And also, future opportunities for collaboration not only in the region but globally too.

India, the UAE and Israel have already enhanced trilateral cooperation, especially in trade and investment.

The Tuesday meeting also dovetailed with India’s efforts to build new plurilateral and multilateral partnerships which are centered on cooperation in various areas including energy, connectivity and maritime security. While the UAE is one of the key energy partners, for India the US and Israel are important for trade and defence and security.

As far as Defence Cooperation with UAE is concerned, for the first time the Indian Army Chief had visited that country, maritime cooperation is one of the critical components of the relations.

India & Abraham Accords Process

As reported earlier, India has backed the Abraham Accords process. Through this process, the Israeli government normalised relations with Morocco, Sudan and Bahrain.

According to the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), these efforts are in line with India supporting peace and stability in West Asia. “This is our extended neighbourhood”.

Earlier this year three countries – UAE, India and Israel had concluded the first trilateral partnership. In this first trilateral partnership, for a project based in UAE, an Israeli company will produce a robotic solar cleaning technology in India.

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