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Last Updated Tuesday March 20 2018 11:14 AM IST

With China in mind, Sushma holds trilateral talks with US, Japan counterparts

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With China in mind, Sushma holds trilateral talks with US, Japan counterparts US secretary of state Rex Tillerson (C) stands with external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj (L) and Japanese foreign minister Taro Kono, at the Palace Hotel in New York on Monday. PTI

New York: Foreign ministers of India, Japan and the US on Monday emphasized on the need for ensuring freedom of navigation, respect for international law and peaceful resolution of disputes, as they held a trilateral meeting in the backdrop of Doklam crisis and assertive Chinese behavior.

On the sidelines of the UN General Assembly here, external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj, US secretary of state Rex Tillerson and Japanese foreign minister Taro Kono also exchanged views on maritime security, connectivity and proliferation issues.

"The ministers emphasized the need for ensuring freedom of navigation, respect for international law and peaceful resolution of disputes," ministry of external affairs spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said.

"On connectivity initiatives, the importance of basing them on universally recognised international norms, prudent financing and respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity was underlined," Kumar said in a statement.

State department spokesperson Heather Nauert in a statement said, "The ministers discussed the importance of a free and open Indo-Pacific region underpinned by a resilient, rules-based architecture that enables every nation to prosper.

"The ministers also affirmed the importance of the freedom of navigation and overflight and the free flow of lawful commerce in the region and around the globe, including in the South China Sea," Nauert said.

China is engaged in hotly contested territorial disputes in both the South China Sea and the East China Sea. Beijing has built up and militarized many of the islands and reefs it controls in the region.

China claims sovereignty over all of South China Sea. However, Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines, Brunei and Taiwan have counter claims.

India and China last month ended a 73-day standoff in Doklam area of the Sikkim sector that was triggered by China's move to build a road in the border area.

Swaraj also deplored North Korea's recent actions and stated that its proliferation linkages must be explored and those involved be held accountable, Kumar said.

Nauert said that the three leaders affirmed and applauded the international community's firm resolve to oppose North Korea's alleged unlawful acts, as reflected in UN Security Council Resolution 2375, and called for continuing international action to curtail its nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

Tensions have dramatically risen on the Korean peninsula after North Korea early this month conducted its biggest nuclear test, which its state-run KCNA news agency described it as a hydrogen bomb.

The three ministers directed their senior officials to explore practical steps to enhance cooperation, he said at the conclusion of the meeting.

Swaraj arrived in New York early today to attend the 72nd annual session of the UN General Assembly. She is scheduled to address the United Nations on September 23.

During her week-long stay here, she is likely to hold between 15-20 bilateral meetings in addition to several multilateral and trilateral meetings.

She is scheduled to have a series of other meetings today including that with Tunisian foreign minister Khemaies Jhinaoui, Bhutanese prime minister Tshering Tobgay, Danish foreign minister Anders Samuelsen, Latvian foreign minister Edgars Rinkevics, and her Bolivian counterpart Fernando Huanacuni Mamani.

In a day jam-packed with consecutive meetings, Swaraj will also participate in a high-level meeting on UN reforms, hosted and chaired by US President Donald Trump.

India is among the 120 countries which have supported the reform efforts of the UN secretary general.

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