India, Israel, the UAE and the US sat down for their first “quadrilateral” meeting on Monday night, opening the way to a whole new geopolitical equation with closer cooperation on trade, technology, Big Data and maritime security in a region that has been volatile and riven with deep fault lines.
“A fruitful first meeting with Israeli APM and FM@YairLapid, UAE FM@ABZayed and US Secretary of State @SecBlinken this evening,” foreign minister Jaishankar tweeted after the meeting. The new grouping is described as an international forum for economic cooperation. The focus areas, according to official readouts of the participating countries, will be trade, technology cooperation, Big Data and maritime security, with the objective to generate synergies that go beyond government-level cooperation.
Israel’s foreign minister Yair Lapid and Jaishankar joined the meeting from Jerusalem, while the others attended virtually from their countries. Lapid was quoted saying later, “Around this virtual table, there is a unique set of capabilities, knowledge and experience that can be used to create the network that we all want to see created.”
“I think the word we’re looking for here is synergy, because this is what we’re going to try and create starting with this meeting. Synergy that will help us work together on infrastructure, digital infrastructure, transport, maritime security and other things that preoccupy us all... The key to success is how quickly can we move from ‘government-to-government’ to ‘business-to-business’. How quickly can we turn this into a working process that will put boots on the ground, changing infrastructure around the world,” he added.
Jaishankar said, “Discussed working together more closely on economic growth and global issues. Agreed on expeditious follow-up.” In his brief comment, he said, “The three of you are among the closest relationships we have, if not the closest.”
He added, “I think it is very clear that on the big issues of our times we all think very similarly and what would be helpful would be if we could agree on some practical things to work upon.” The group discussed the possibility of working together on joint infrastructure projects. The meeting also deliberated on each country appointing a senior level bureaucrat to be part of a joint working group to materialise these decisions.
All four ministers promised to meet in person during the Dubai Expo in the coming months. US state department spokesperson Ned Price in a statement said Blinken and his three counterparts discussed expanding economic and political cooperation in the Middle East and Asia. “