WASHINGTON, Dec 6 (IANS): The United States, India and Japan will hold their first trilateral meeting here Dec 19 to discuss "a range of Asia Pacific regional issues" among three leading "Pacific democracies."
"This meeting is going to be an opportunity to hold comprehensive discussion on a range of Asia-Pacific regional
issues," State Department spokesman Mark Toner told reporters Monday.
The specific agenda is still being determined, "but obviously, as the three leading Pacific democracies, we look forward to productive exchanges with India and Japan," he said.
Asked why India, an Indian Ocean country, was invited to the meeting as one of the "Pacific democracies," Toner said, "This is a chance for us to discuss regional issues."
In response to a question that why Australia was not invited to the meeting, Toner explained that it "isn't all-inclusive."
"I don't know about Australia. All these talks don't have to be completely inclusive. Again, this is a chance for us to meet with three leading democracies in the region."
The dialogue earlier scheduled for October 8 in Tokyo was postponed at US request.
Driven by Tokyo and finalised during then foreign secretary Nirupama Rao's visit to Japan in April 2010, the dialogue
is also part of New Delhi's effort to go beyond the stated Look East policy and engage North Asia as well.
From the US perspective, the dialogue is seen as part of what is described as a policy "pivot" toward Asia as wars in Iraq and Afghanistan wind down.
President Barack Obama recently returned from an Asian tour that stressed US interests in the region.