External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Wednesday said he held a cordial virtual meeting with his Japanese counterpart Toshimitsu Motegi during which they discussed intensifying their bilateral engagement in the near future and reviewed regional issues in the strategically vital Indo-Pacific. Jaishankar, who is in the UK at the invitation of UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab for the G7 Foreign and Development Ministers Meeting, held the meeting with Motegi on the sidelines of the summit.

Jaishankar was forced to take his schedule virtual after members of the small delegation accompanying him tested positive for COVID-19.

"A cordial virtual meeting with FM @motegi of Japan. Appreciate Japan's strong support for India to meet the current Covid challenge. Discussed intensifying our bilateral engagement in the near future," Jaishankar tweeted.

The two leaders also reviewed regional issues in the Indo-Pacific, a strategically vital region which has seen growing Chinese assertiveness.

In November 2017, India, Japan, the US and Australia gave shape to the long-pending proposal of setting up the "Quad" to develop a new strategy to keep the critical sea routes in the Indo-Pacific free of any influence.

China, which is flexing its military muscles in the Indo-Pacific region and beyond, is engaged in hotly contested territorial disputes in both the South China Sea and the East China Sea.

The country claims almost all of the 1.3 million square miles South China Sea as its sovereign territory.

China has built up and militarised many of the islands and reefs it controls in the region. It has been building military bases on artificial islands in the region also claimed by Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam.

Both maritime areas in the South and East China seas are stated to be rich in minerals, oil and other natural resources and are also vital to global trade.