New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi, US President Joe Biden, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshi hide Suga came together this evening in a virtual meeting of the “Quad” group of nations that is central to efforts to counter China’s growing military and economic power.
“It’s great to see you, PM Modi,” President Biden said as the two leaders met for the first time since the new administration took charge after the November US election. PM Modi, in his opening remarks, said the four countries were united by their democratic values and that the Quad would remain an important pillar of stability in the Indo-Pacific region.
“It is good to be among friends. I thank President Biden for this initiative. We are united by our democratic values, and our commitment to a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific. Our agenda today – covering areas like vaccines, climate change and emerging technologies – makes the Quad a force for global good,” said the Prime Minister.
“I see this positive vision as an extension of India’s ancient philosophy of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam, which regards the world as one family. We will work together, closer than ever before, for advancing our shared values and promoting a secure, stable and prosperous Indo-Pacific. Today’s summit meeting shows that Quad has come of age. It will now remain an important pillar of stability in the region.”
President Biden, opening the meeting, said the Quad would be a vital arena for cooperation and a free and open Indo- Pacific region was essential to all of their futures. “We know our commitments…Our region is governed by international law, committed to all the universal values and free from coercion but I am optimistic about our prospect,” he said, in an apparent reference to China.
“The United States is committed to working with you and with all our allies in the region to achieve stability. This group is particularly important because it is dedicated to the practical solutions and concrete results,” the US President added.
The first Quad summit – seen as part of efforts to counterbalance China – will focus on a “free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific region” as well as on ensuring affordable and safe vaccines against coronavirus. The discussions will include financing agreements to support increased manufacturing capacity for vaccines in India, the world’s biggest vaccine maker.
A key focus will be the initiative under which anti-Covid vaccines will be developed in the US, manufactured in India,financed by Japan and US, and supported by Australia. India has urged the three other Quad nations to invest in its vaccine production capacity, a government source told Reuters, to counter China’s vaccine diplomacy. The four countries will also discuss a series of working groups to focus on climate change, critical and emerging technologies.
An in-person meeting is likely to be held later in the year, a senior US official told news agency Reuters this week. The “Quad” or the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue is an informal strategic forum of the US, Japan, Australia, and India set up in 2007. It was revived in 2017 as a buffer against Beijing. The Quad remains a strong focus for the four nations that have each had conflicts with China in recent years. In November, the Quad nations came together to participate in a two-phase joint military exercise, Malabar 2020, in the Bay of Bengal and in the Arabian Sea.