21 Oct 2019 09:39

Indo-Pacific Initiative promoted by U.S. may erode Asia-Pacific multilateral cooperation mechanisms - Shoigu

BEIJING. Oct 21 (Interfax) - Russia has questions about certain provisions of the Indo-Pacific Initiative, which is being promoted by the United States and may lead to the establishment of "coalitions of interests," which may erode the existent system of multilateral cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said at the plenary meeting of the Beijing Xiangshan Forum on Monday.

"The Indo-Pacific Initiative promoted by the United States does not cover some countries of the region, which leads to the establishment of the so-called coalitions of interests. This contravenes the task of a single and indivisible security area and is fraught with erosion of the efficient system of multilateral cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region," Shoigu said.

Besides, "the involvement of regional countries in the Indo-Pacific Initiative not just expands the geography of their cooperation but also draws them into regional conflicts, which they have nothing to do with," he said.

"Due to this partnership, Asia-Pacific states will have to take active part in settling those conflicts, while conflicts, which exist outside the region but constitute a pressing problem to Asia-Pacific states, such as the return of terrorist fighters from Syria, are not covered by this concept," Shoigu said.

There are several variants of the so-called Indo-Pacific concept, and "some of their provisions differ greatly," he said.

"Russia shares the idea of creating a 'free and open partnership' and equal and indivisible security for all states in Asia. But we have questions about certain provisions of the U.S. initiative," Shoigu said.

"For instance, the Indo-Pacific concept does not have clear geographical boundaries, does not specify terms of participation, and gives a pretty vague idea of the strategy's goals," he said.

Russia is thoroughly analyzing regional security initiatives of colleagues and has "a special interest in the so-called concept of the Indo-Pacific region promoted by a number of states" for the Asia-Pacific region," Shoigu said.