Remarks With Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida
Secretary of State
SECRETARY KERRY: Minister Swaraj and Minister Kishida, thank you very much for being here. This is the first-ever meeting trilaterally of Japan, India, and the United States here in – here in New York or elsewhere. We have not had this kind of a trilateral meeting. And so this is significant because we have each, in talking to each other, come to the understanding that at this particular point in history with the different interests and with the huge shift of interest to foreign policy as economics and economics as foreign policy and all of East Asia as an area of enormous economic growth and also a place of challenge for some other issues of security – the fact that we are three of the largest democracies in the world and we share common values about governance, about accountability, transparency – we thought it was important to be able to have an opportunity to be able to come together. And we really welcome this collaboration. It’s an important moment for us to be able to underscore our interest in the Indo-Pacific region as part of India’s East Asia policy, and also part of Japan’s very active engagement with South and Southeast Asia under Prime Minister Abe.
So we have an opportunity here to talk a little bit about the maritime security issues, about the economic issues, the opportunities, global climate change, and I’m really delighted that both of you thought this was a good idea and an opportunity to be able to share some thoughts.
So without any further comments, let me recognize Minister Swaraj and then Minister Kishida.
EXTERNAL AFFAIRS MINISTER SWARAJ: Thank you very much, Secretary Kerry, for taking the lead in hosting and organizing the first-ever meeting of the foreign ministers of India, U.S., Japan. It’s a great pleasure to see you again. I’m also delighted to see my good friend, Foreign Minister Kishida, today. Excellencies, we can note with satisfaction the idea of foreign ministers trilateral meeting discussed by our officials since 2011 is a reality today.
Our meeting today underscores growing maturity and candor in our discussions. I also – it also highlights increasing convergence of our strategic, political, economic, and security interests. Excellencies, I must underline that at a fundamental level, our trilateral engagement is defined by cooperating approaches and endeavors. To realize our mutual objectives, we intend to grow our exchanges into complete trilateral engagement in other areas, including regional connectivity and humanitarian assistance in disaster situation, to realize our mutual objectives.
For India, the Asia Pacific and the Indian Ocean region is strategic to our security and economic interests. The sea lanes of communication in the region are the lifetime – the lifeline of India’s trade and commercial externalities. A substantial part of our energy and goods trade passes through the crucial sea lanes of Asia Pacific. As a law-abiding nation, we have always supported the freedom of navigation in international waters, the right of passage and overflight, unimpeded commerce and access to resources in accordance with principles of international law, including the 1982 UNCLOS.
Excellencies, as part of our Act East policy, India has focused on building stronger linkages with centers of economic growth in the region and deepened political and security ties with them, including ASEAN member countries. We see a strong connect between our discussions today and India’s Act East policy. It is in this strategic context that India seeks an early membership of APEC. I would like to work with both of you for India’s early membership of APEC.
Let me close by saying that we see the first meeting of India-U.S.-Japan as a trilateral partnership for peace, prosperity, and stability in the region as an effort to strengthen transparency, inclusivity, and the rule of law in the region, and as a commitment to what we can do together for our mutual benefit and also for the larger good of the region. Thank you.
SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you very much. I appreciate it. And now, Fumio Kishida, the (inaudible) minister of Japan.
FOREIGN MINISTER KISHIDA: Thank you. Thank you, John. (Via interpreter) Secretary Kerry, Minister Swaraj, we are taking a historic step forward today in holding this inaugural meeting of the U.S.-India-Japan foreign ministerial. This meeting with further deepen our trilateral strategic partnership.
United States, India, and Japan, working in close cooperation, will be truly significant not only for the bilateral relations of India-Japan, U.S.-Japan, and U.S.-India, but also for the stability and prosperity of the whole Indo-Pacific region. In January of this year when I visited India, I delivered a policy speech entitled “The Special Partnership for the Era of the Indo-Pacific.” The Pacific and the Indian Oceans are beginning to link together as oceans of freedom and prosperity, driving the advent of a new era when Indo-Pacific region becomes the epicenter of global prosperity.
The trilateral partnership of the United States, India, and Japan has an extremely important role to play in pulling this new era forward. Today I am looking forward to have a candid discussion with Secretary Kerry as well as Minister Swaraj on this issue. Thank you.
SECRETARY KERRY: Fumio, thank you very much. I like that concept of epicenter. I think that’s important. So what we’re going to do now is move – if we could ask the members of the press to give us the opportunity to have some private conversation, that’d be great. Thank you.