Summits are supposed to exhilarate their flagbearers. But there is more excitement about the first in-person Quad summit this week among journalists and think-tankers than among its participants — the four heads of State or government from the United States, Australia, Japan and India.
Among these four, India has done the most to rescue the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad) from the shock it received just before the Washington summit as the result of the creation of the Australia-United Kingdom-US (AUKUS) partnership on September 15. The AUKUS is a bold security move, not seen in the Pacific since the end of the Cold War, a generation ago.
In the practice of diplomacy, there are times when silence is golden. Arindam Bagchi, the spokesperson for Indian diplomacy, did not oblige with any comment when he was badgered with questions on the new partnership one day after the AUKUS was created. “I don’t have anything to share on this for the moment on the AUKUS or related stuff,” Bagchi responded. “And as I said, I don’t have much to say on this AUKUS initiative for the moment,” the spokesperson repeated when journalists did not give up.
It took five more days before the Ministry of External Affairs came out with an unequivocal view on the irrelevance of the AUKUS to the Quad. During those five days, telephone wires were burnt, as it were, between New Delhi and Paris.