Melbourne: The U.S. and Japan have asked Australia to upgrade the security arrangements among the three countries to a “quadilateral” agreement by including India.
The Japanese government and U.S. vice-president Dick Cheney are keen to include the growing economic and military power of India in the already enhanced “trilateral” security arrangements, locking together the three most powerful democracies of the Asia-Pacific region, “The Australian” daily reported on 15 March.
Cheney gave the Japanese proposal a new lease of life on his recent visit to Japan and Australia after sections of the Bush administration rebuffed the plan.
He raised the idea in talks with Prime Minister John Howard in Sydney two weeks ago after discussing the plan with Shinzo Abe government in Tokyo.
The plan involves turning the trilateral security arrangements between Australia, Japan and the U.S. into a “quadrilateral” arrangement including India.
India’s military strength, economic growth and geographic position would significantly offset China’s emerging power, which is of concern to many in the Bush administration.
The Australian Government is apparently not against the idea in principle but does not wish to hurry the process and wants to ensure the relationship with Japan is settled before embarking on any new arrangements.
Cheney’s backing for the plan, understood to be strongly supported by the Japanese Prime Minister, came only two weeks before the signing of a historic security declaration between Japan and Australia.