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NEW DELHI : Slamming those who have described the Quad as an “Asian NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation)," foreign minister S Jaishankar on Wednesday said discussions among the Quad’s four nations focus on issues like vaccines, student mobility, semiconductors, emerging technologies, climate change and maritime security.

Speaking at the sixth Raisina Dialogue, Jaishankar also said that the Indo-Pacific construct reflects a more contemporary image of the world, mirroring the overcoming of the Cold War and not reinforcing it.

“The Indo-Pacific is a clear message that India will not be constrained between the Malacca Straits and the Gulf of Aden," Jaishankar said. “Our interests, influence, activity today go way beyond. When we look at a large canvas, we see Australia there, we see France...There are a range of activities and projects on which we can act together," the minister said.

The Quad comprises the US, Japan, Australia and India.

The minister’s comments came soon after Russian ambassador Nikolay Kudashev criticized the Indo-Pacific strategy describing it as “dangerous" and an effort to revive the Cold War mentality.

Jaishankar was on a panel which saw the Australian foreign minister Marise Payne and visiting French foreign minister Jean-Yves le Drian also offering remarks on a new trilateral among France, Australia and India. The three, he said, shared the “same willingness to work together" and respected the rule of law.

In her comments, Payne said developing nations across the Indo-Pacific were facing challenges due to the pandemic. She also touched upon issues like challenges to rules-based global, sustainability of oceans, climate change and strategic competition being witnessed in several parts of the globe.

Later, responding to a question on the emergence of plurilateralism, Jaishankar said new groups of countries like Australia-France-India had emerged as a result of the failure of recognized and established multilateral bodies who did not rise to the expectation of people and countries especially during the covid-19 pandemic.

On the Quad which saw its first leaders’ level meeting last month bringing together US president Joe Biden, Indian prime minister Narendra Modi, Australian prime minister Scott Morrison and Japanese prime minister Yoshihide Suga, Jaishankar said the purpose of the summit was to work together for their national, regional and global benefits. He said that he and his counterparts from the Quad including Payne had discussed cooperation on 10 subjects including new technologies and semiconductors – seen as areas that China has set sights on to further improve.

Slamming countries like China–which described Quad as an “Asian Nato", a grouping aimed at limiting its influence – Jaishankar said the idea that “there is some sort of threat or messaging to others, I think people need to get over it."

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