The US, India, Japan and Australia are exploring to evolve a common approach on 5G telecom technology, expanding their strategic cooperation under the framework of Quadrilateral coalition or “Quad” which was primarily focused on the Indo-Pacific region.

Officials of the four countries discussed the issue at a virtual meeting of the ‘Quad’ on Friday in the backdrop of growing reluctance by a significant number of countries in Europe and elsewhere to allow Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei Technologies to operate in their territories.

It is learnt that India is already in touch with Japan for the development of 5G technology, and the issue was deliberated upon extensively during the first foreign and defence ministerial dialogue between the two strategic partners in November last year.

“Noting the importance of digital connectivity and secure networks, the officials discussed ways to promote the use of trusted vendors, particularly for fifth generation (5G) networks,” a statement by the US said on Friday after the meeting.

The US has banned Huawei over concerns of security, and Washington has been pressuring other countries to restrict the operations of the Chinese telecom major.

Huawei has been eyeing India as a major market for its 5G technology.

People familiar with the issue said the proposed cooperation on 5G technology between India and Japan will be discussed threadbare at the annual India-Japan summit which is likely to take place by end of this year.

The cooperation between India and Japan has been on an upswing in a range of critical areas in the last few years.

On Friday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a telephonic conversation with his newly-appointed Japanese counterpart Yoshihide Suga during which they deliberated on the future direction of the Special Strategic and Global Partnership between the two countries.

The discussion on the 5G technology at the Quad meeting also reflected how serious the four countries have been on the issue, the people familiar with the issue said.

In November 2017, the four countries gave shape to the long-pending proposal of setting up the “Quadrilateral” coalition or “Quad” to develop a new strategy to keep the critical sea routes in the Indo-Pacific free of any influence.

However, the coalition is now expanding the sphere of their cooperation to other issues having geo-political ramifications.

The people said the issue of 5G technology is expected to figure prominently at a meeting of foreign ministers of the Quad member countries in Tokyo next month.

The issue of “risks” posed by Chinese communication networks was discussed at a high-level meeting between India and the US last year.

The 5G is the next-generation cellular technology with download speeds stated to be 10 to 100 times faster than the current 4G LTE networks.

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