India-Japan-US trilateral dialogue in New Delhi this week

New Delhi: The top US diplomat for South Asia, Alice Wells, and Susan Thornton, the State Department official in-charge of the East Asia and Pacific affairs, are to jointly lead Washington’s delegation to the India-US-Japan Trilateral Dialogue in New Delhi this week.

The State Department announced on Monday that Wells, who is the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs, and Thornton, who is the Acting Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, will travel to India on Tuesday.

The Trilateral Dialogue is scheduled to take place from Wednesday to Friday. On Friday, Wells is also to participate in the India-US Forum hosted by the Ananta Centre and the External Affairs Ministry.

Under President Donald Trump’s strategic policy for the Indo-Pacific region, Washington is interested in developing close between India and Japan, as well as Australia to be counter-weight to China.

Last week External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj visited Japan to co-chair the ninth India-Japan Strategic Dialogue with Japan’s Foreign Minister Taro Kono.

New Delhi will host the strategically important trilateral dialogue between India, Japan and the US this week ahead of the summit between US President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at Mar-a-Lago later this month.

The crucial dialogue between the three leading democratic powers of the Indo-Pacific region on Wednesday comes a fortnight ahead of the Trump-Abe summit at Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s Florida resort.

While Wells has just returned from Pakistan, Thorton completed her trip to Malaysia before heading to New Delhi where she attended the US-ASEAN Dialogue to engage on regional security and economic issues.

The India-Japan-US trilateral was launched in December 2011 when Hillary Clinton was the Secretary of State. For the first several rounds the trilateral was held at the director or assistant secretary level.

It was elevated to ministerial level in 2015. The inaugural ministerial trilateral was held on 29 September 2015, in New York on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly Session. It was hosted by the then US Secretary of State John Kerry. The External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida represented their respective countries.

The last ministerial dialogue was also held in New York in September 2017.

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