NEW DELHI :
Collaboration among countries to prevent future global health crises, the need for transparency, the importance of a rules-based international order, and the post covid-19 world order were among the issues discussed by foreign ministers of India, the US, Japan, Australia, Israel, Brazil and South Korea during a meeting by videoconference on Monday.
The call was initiated at the request of the US and brought together countries sharing similar views on the post covid-19 world order. The ministers discussed “resilience in supply chains" or the need to cut dependence on only one country, in this case China, two people said.
This is the first such foreign ministers-level interaction of this group of nations, though India has been holding bilateral conversations with countries to discuss the covid-19 crisis. In the past, India also had conversations in a trilateral format with the US and Japan, and Japan and Australia.
This first meeting of the seven countries seemed to hint at a possible realignment of forces in a post covid-19 world. According to analysts, US-China tensions over the origin of the pandemic is likely to see a small group of middle powers emerging to provide leadership on global issues in a post covid-19 world around whom other countries could coalesce.
In its readout, the US State Department said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and counterparts stressed on “transparency" and “accountability in combating the covid-19 pandemic and in addressing its causes."
“They also discussed collaboration toward preventing future global health crises, reaffirming the importance of the rules-based international order," it said.
The US has in the past weeks accused China of suppressing vital information about the SARS-CoV2 virus that caused covid-19 pandemic. Last month, US President Donald Trump also announced that Washington would stop funding to the World Health Organization blaming it of going slow on declaring covid-19 a pandemic, seemingly at China’s instance. There have also been calls from the US for a probe into how the disease became a pandemic — a demand seconded by Australia.
In a Twitter post, Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said, foreign minister"@MarisePayne had productive talks overnight with @ernestofaraujo (Brazil), @DrSJaishankar (India), @Israel_katz (Israel), @moteging (Japan), @MOFAkr_eng (South Korea) and @SecPompeo (US) as we work together to overcome #COVID19."
“Transparency & learning the lessons of this pandemic are critical to prevent future global health crises," it added.
Japan, too, called for “each country to share information and insights in a free, transparent, and timely manner" — seen as a pointed call to China to be more forthcoming with information about the origins of SARS-CoV2 .
Japanese foreign minister Motegi Toshimitsu recognised the need for cooperation to tackle the spread of covid-19 and “pointed out the growing importance of coordination among the international community, particularly among relevant countries," according to a Japanese foreign ministry statement.
“Furthermore, he (Motegi) stated that...it is also important to tackle various challenges, bearing in mind the state of the international order after the situation winds down," the statement said in a reference to the post covid-19 world order.