Photo Courtesy: Avazz24

New York, Feb 11: The Quad on Friday called for the elimination of terrorist safe havens and for bringing to justice the perpetrators of cross-border terrorism.

“We call on all countries to ensure that territory under their control is not used to launch terror attacks and to expeditiously bring to justice the perpetrators of such attacks,” the Foreign Ministers of the Quad nations said in a joint statement after their meeting in Australia’s Melbourne.

Reiterating the condemnation of the 26/11 Mumbai and Pathankot terrorist attacks, the statement said: “We denounce the use of terrorist proxies for cross-border terrorism and urge countries to work together to eliminate terrorist safe havens; disrupt terrorist networks and the infrastructure and financial channels which sustain them, and halt cross-border movement of terrorists.”

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Foreign Ministers Marise Payne of Australia and Hayashi Yoshimasa of Japan who participated in the meeting focused on joint action, said in their statement: “The Quad is exchanging information on ever-evolving threats and working with Indo-Pacific countries, and in multilateral fora, to counter all forms of terrorism and violent extremism.”

They warned that “ungoverned spaces” are “a direct threat to the safety and security of the Indo-Pacific” and said, “Afghan territory should not be used to threaten or attack any country, shelter or train terrorists, or plan or finance terrorist acts”.

The statement said they were committed to the “Indo-Pacific countries’ efforts to advance a free and open Indo-Pacific – a region which is inclusive and resilient, and in which states strive to protect the interests of their people, free from coercion”.

Without mentioning China which poses a common threat to the four countries, the ministers said: “Quad partners champion the free, open, and inclusive rules-based order, rooted in international law, that protects the sovereignty and territorial integrity of regional countries.”

Their statement made a pointed reference to the South and East China Seas where Beijing has posed a direct threat to countries in the area.

“We reiterate the importance of adherence to international law, particularly as reflected in the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), to meet challenges to the maritime rules-based order, including in South and East China Seas,” the statement said.

“The Quad recognises that international law, peace, and security in the maritime domain underpins the development and prosperity of the Indo-Pacific,” it added.

The ministers said they would “deepen engagement with regional partners, including through capacity-building and technical assistance, to strengthen maritime domain awareness, protect their ability to develop offshore resources, consistent with UNCLOS, ensure freedom of navigation and overflight, combat challenges, such as illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing, and promote the safety and security of sea lines of communication”.

Their statement highlighted their initiative to provide 1.3 billion vaccines around the region with India being the manufacturer of the vaccine.

“We are pleased with the Quad Vaccine Partnership’s rapid progress in expanding vaccine production at the Biological E Ltd facility in India, which aims to deliver at least 1 billion vaccines by the end of 2022,” it said.

The first batch of Quad-supported vaccines would become available in the first half of this year, it said.

As another element of Quad’s humanitarian assistance and disaster response programmes, the statement said that it was helping recovery efforts in Tonga which was hit by volcano eruption and tsunami last month.

The Quad ministers who met under the shadow of tensions in Europe because of the confrontation between Russia and Ukraine, did not broach the topic in their statement.

Source: IANS