India In Quad’s Driver Seat, America In The Seat Next To It, Says US Envoy Eric Garcetti

Last Updated: February 04, 2024, 14:53 IST

US Ambassador to India Eric Garcetti spoke at the 17th edition of Jaipur Literature Festival (JLF).

US Ambassador Eric Garcetti emphasizes India’s leadership in the Quad, calling it a strong model for the world. Insights on Quad’s role, challenges, and potential

India is in the driving seat of the Quad, and America is in the seat next to it with the corrective steering wheel, said US Ambassador to India Eric Garcetti, underlining that it is up to India to “forcefully define” the nature of the diplomatic partnership.

The Quad is a diplomatic partnership between India, the US, Australia, and Japan to deepen economic, diplomatic, and military ties among the four countries. Garcetti made the remarks at the 17th edition of the Jaipur Literature Festival (JLF). “India is very much in the driver seat of the Quad… may be America is in the next seat with the corrective steering wheel, I think Japan has been an avid navigator from the beginning and Australia is really excited to be back in the car and asking if everybody has enough to drink and eat, and where we are going.

Indo-Pacific Vision

“So it is a great time and we love these different roles. I want to sit in the back some other time and relax, but it is in some ways up to India to most forcefully define what we want to do with the Quad,” said Garcetti on Saturday in a session, “Heart of the Matter: Quad and the new Indo-Pacific Vision”. The 53-year-old said the Quad can be the “model for the world” as it is “very strong and stable”, not just in geometry but in diplomacy as well more than multilateral institutions such as the UN, which he claimed don’t have much efficacy.

“Bilaterals are always engaging but the two countries get a little bored of each other when it is just direct,” he added. Garcetti used another analogy to explain his point better. “It is like a dinner party, invite three people, it gets more interesting, four people, now you have a party, when others want to come to the party… now you know you have got something special,” he was quoted as saying by PTI. Though he admitted that the Quad is not a group where the four member countries agree on every vote in multilateral institutions, Garcetti asserted it is not a “talk shop” either. He gave examples with the kind of work being done by the member countries on semiconductors, artificial intelligence and space projects.

‘Whole strategic alliance’

“We can talk about the domain awareness in the Indian Ocean that is actually commencing and moving forward. Space projects that are actually not talk but actually probably as robust as any place on earth,” he pointed. Former Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull, who was also part of the panel discussion, said one should look at how far the Quad has come since its inception in 2007, rather than reflecting on why it hasn’t turned into a “whole strategic alliance”.

He called the Quad to some extent a case of “same bed, different dreams”. “The point is some of our dreams are different but we have a lot of dreams in common, and they are the ones that Shinzo Abe defined in his original vision. “Countries that are committed to freedom… doesn’t mean that they are going to agree on every issue but it does mean that they can stand together to defend freedom, sovereignty and the openness that democracy demands,” Turnbull, one of the key people behind the reinstatement of the Quad in 2017, added.

The Quad group, which had first met in 2007, went into cold storage after protests from China. It was reinstated in 2017 — after a gap of 10 years — in the face of China’s growing assertiveness in world affairs. Australian Ambassador to India Philip Green and former foreign secretary Shyam Saran also participated in the session.

(With agency inputs)

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