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Quad a group of like-minded democracies working together, not military alliance: Blinken

US Secretary of State Antony J Blinken. Photo: State Department/Ronny Przysucha

New Delhi, July 28 (MNN) US Secretary of State Antony J Blinken asserted on Wednesday that Quad was not a military alliance but a group of like-minded democracies – India, the US, Japan, Australia – which had come together to work cooperatively on issues and matters affecting lives of their citizens and the Indo-Pacific as a whole.

“Beneath it lies the conviction that the Indo-Pacific needs to remain a free and open region,” he told a media person of an Indian news channel about the US’ vision of the Quad.

Blinken earlier had a meeting with Indian Foreign Minister S Jaishankar at the Hyderabad House here where a large part of their conversation centred around the Quad.

The US Secretary said that most of the challenges faced in the world could not be resolved by any one country acting alone. “And so it’s a natural and normal thing for like-minded democracies to come together and work on these things together.”

Asked to respond to Chinese criticism that the only purpose of the Quad was to target or to contain the communist country, Blinken said he did not think that financing, producing and distributing tens or hundreds of millions of more vaccines was to target China, “except in the most positive way”.

“It’s trying to help the region and help the world get over COVID-19. And virtually all of the work that we’re doing together is to, in one way or another, improve the lives of people in the region and make sure that it remains free and open.”

Blinken replied in the affirmative when asked if the Quad was not like traditional NATO allies or other treaty allies whereby others rush in to protect if one of the four were physically or in some form attacked.

As for Afghanistan and the decision of US President Joe Biden to withdraw troops and subsequent Taliban takeover of large tracts of territory, the US Secretary said the US went to Afghanistan due to 9/11 attack.

“We went to deal with those who attacked us, and thankfully, in solidarity with many other countries. And we went to make sure that we would bring to justice those who attacked us and do our best to make sure that it couldn’t happen again; and we’ve largely achieved what we set out to achieve. Osama bin Laden was brought to justice 10 years ago and al-Qaida as a threat from Afghanistan to the US or to anyone else has been vastly diminished, if not entirely eliminated. So that purpose has largely been achieved.”

Blinken pointed out that the US spent 20 years, a trillion dollars and lost 4,500 Americans in Afghanistan which, he added, has to be in a position to decide its own future, but with international community support.

“Even as we’re withdrawing our forces, we’re very much engaged in Afghanistan: Supporting the government, economic assistance, development assistance, assistance for security forces, and diplomacy to try to bring the parties together for a peaceful resolution of the conflict.”

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