US military official says diplomatic ‘quad’ is ongoing

SINGAPORE (AP) – An American military official said that the United States (US), Australia, India and Japan continue to have regular diplomatic meetings to “coordinate our respective visions of and efforts in the Indo-Pacific region”.

Pentagon spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Dave Eastburn made the comments late Friday in Washington to clarify that the US-backed diplomatic grouping often referred to as the quad would continue.

They came after Head of the US Indo-Pacific Command Admiral Phil Davidson suggested in Singapore on Thursday that a loose security grouping of the four countries could be shelved for now.

Eastburn said Davidson “was referring to a formal, regular meeting of military leaders from the four countries” and not other regular diplomatic consultations. He said such diplomatic meetings have been held three times since November 2017 and would continue.

The US and the other three countries had come together to provide humanitarian assistance after the Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe then suggested they form the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, which met three years later.

The meetings stopped for a decade but were restarted in 2017.