Washington: Ahead of the first of its kind dialogue involving India, Japan and the US, a top American diplomat has said the trilateral talks make good strategic sense, but the idea that they are aimed at China's containment is ‘preposterous’.

The trilateral dialogue is slated to be held here on Monday during which top diplomats from India, Japan and the US are scheduled to discuss several key regional and global issues, including economic and military matters.

"There are a number of issues that we want to discuss: larger and strategic development in Asia, trends, economic, military, strategic," Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Kurt Campbell told a news agency.

But there are a couple of specific issues that he said will gain substantial attention during the day-long trilateral meeting.

"First it is obviously in the interest of all three countries to keep in close touch with respect to developments of Myanmar. It's important to all three countries," he said.

"We believe that there are new operational concepts that link the Indian Ocean with the Pacific Ocean, we want to talk about the manifestations of that, both in terms of maritime security and other aspects of commerce and security interactions and we would talk about developments among all the key countries in the Asia Pacific region," Campbell said.

"But our talks wouldn't end there. There would also be talks on global issues. I am very excited about these developments and I think they have the potential to advance trust and understanding among all three capitals," he said, while making it clear that the idea that the dialogue is aimed at containment of China "is simply preposterous on its face."
Campbell said the future prospects of India-US-Japan dialogue depend on progress of Monday's meeting.

"Well, it has taken us some time to set up this meeting. I think, we all will see how this one goes. I think, we will make our assessment after that. We certainly would be open to more frequent discussions, but all parties would have to be comfortable with that. And I think, what we are trying to do is to take step at a time and just see how this first set of
interactions goes," he said.

Responding to questions about apprehension in China on India, Japan and the US coming together and having such a dialogue, Campbell strongly argued that this is not against Beijing.

"Let me say that one of the things that we try to make clear in all of the strategic interactions that it is in the interest of every country in Asia to improve their relationship with China. And that is a foreign policy objective of the foremost importance. Now countries also want good relationship with the United States as well," Campbell said.

"I think they believe that the relationship with the United States actually enables them to have a strong relationship with China. So we are sending an unambiguous signal that not only do we want to work towards a strong relationship towards China but we expect that's the case, too, in the region," he said.

So the idea of containment "is simply preposterous on its face," Campbell said, adding "we are in active consultations with Chinese friends on a number of smaller meetings that include them."

The top American diplomat said the United States has long supported India's desire to play a larger role in the Asia Pacific region. "So the impetus of the Look East strategy on the part of India is something that we warmly endorse and support," he said.  "We have sought over the last couple of years to have extensive consultations with Indian friends about
developments, trade opportunities and strategic interactions in the Asia Pacific region. Part of that is to encourage India's strong and positive relationships and dialogues with a range of actors," Campbell said.

The US, he said, has been a strong supporter of an increase in ties and discussions between Delhi and Beijing.

"We also support India's emerging interaction and its influence in countries such as Indonesia. But obviously given shared interest and strong ties we have sought to see a relationship between Japan and India grow as well," he said.

"We support not only multilateral institutions in Asia, but what we might call mini-laterals, so there could be smaller groupings to talk about issues of mutual concerns. So we have long thought that a dialogue starting carefully and with clear and specific objectives, but a dialogue between the United States, Japan and India makes good strategic sense," Campbell said.

He said that as part of efforts to develop common strategy with India and Japan, the two key Asian democracies, the US would discuss with them next week the recent visit of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to Myanmar.

"What is most important is that we would love to have feedback from both countries about the visit of Secretary Clinton. We would like to compare our overall strategy."

He highlighted the need to "speak in one voice" on areas like the release of political prisoners, greater opening of political space to allow parties like NLD of Aung San Suu Kyi to participate in polls, a sheer and intensive effort devoted to easing ethnic tension and moving towards national reconciliation and lastly a responsible military set of interaction that finally removes military ties between Myanmar and North Korea.

"These are the interests that we think are widely shared and we want to talk about those and also how we might best coordinate assistance to deal with capacity building, rule of law, agricultural issues and health concerns," Campbell said.

As the head of the East Asia and Pacific Affairs Bureau of the State Department, Campbell has been instrumental in shaping the Myanmar policy of the Obama administration.

For the last two years, he had been leading the US delegations in talks with Myanmar, which finally paved the way for Clinton's visit to the country early this month – the first by a Secretary of State in more than 50 years.

Campbell said the United States wants Myanmar to have a "good strong trustful relationship" with all its neighbours, principally India and China.

"We will be in close consultations with both of them about the developments inside the country. We seek to promote further reform and we would be discussing with Japan and India, how we can work together to coordinate our efforts to support the continuation of reform inside the country."

(Agencies)