US President Biden to address Quad leaders on Friday
Washington [US], US President Joe Biden will meet with the leaders of the Quad -- India, Australia and Japan -- countries through a videoconference at the end of the workweek, White House spokesperson Jen Psaki said on Monday.
"On Friday morning, President Biden will meet virtually with his counterparts in the Quad -- Prime Minister (Yoshihide) Suga of Japan, Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi of India and Prime Minister (Scott) Morrison of Australia, formed in the aftermath of the 2004 tsunami and formalized in 2007," Psaki said.
"President Biden has made this one of his earliest multilateral engagements speaks to the importance, we place on close cooperation with our allies and partners in the Indo-Pacific, a range of issues we expect to be discussed. The Quad has met regularly at the working and foreign ministers level, however, Friday will be the first time the quad is meeting at the leaders level. A range of issues we expect would be discussed," she added.
Psaki explained that a range of issues facing the global community is expected to be discussed at the meeting, including the situation concerning the coronavirus pandemic, economic cooperation and the climate crisis.
The Press Secretary said further that the meeting "is an opportunity to engage at an even higher level than it has been done in the past with key partners to the United States. Japan, Australia and India are key partners to the United States."
When asked whether the meet could be seen as "as a prelude" to re-engaging the TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership), Psaki responded that she does not see it as a direct connection to the partnership. "I wouldn't see it as a direct connection to that, no... I wouldn't see it through this prism. The president has been clear about his commitment to rebuilding the middle class and looking at any engagement, trade engagement through that prism," she said.
The leaders will discuss ongoing efforts to combat the Covid-19 pandemic and explore opportunities for collaboration in ensuring safe, equitable and affordable vaccines in the Indo-Pacific region, the statement read from the External Affairs Ministry.
"The leaders will discuss regional and global issues of shared interest, and exchange views on practical areas of cooperation towards maintaining a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific region. The Summit will provide an opportunity to exchange views on contemporary challenges such as resilient supply chains, emerging and critical technologies, maritime security, and climate change," the statement added.
Ahead of Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad) head of states meet, Japanese Prime Minister Suga had a telephonic conversation with Prime Minister Modi earlier today. The conversation lasted for forty minutes.
The two leaders shared the recognition that cooperation towards realizing a free and open Indo-Pacific is becoming increasingly important and to this end, shared the view to steadily advance both Japan-India bilateral cooperation and Japan-Australia-India-US quadrilateral cooperation, according to a press release of the Foreign Affairs Ministry of Japan.
The US President had spoken to PM Narendra Modi in February in which the White House said the leaders would work toward "a stronger regional architecture through the Quad."
Last month, the foreign ministers of the four countries held an online meeting, in which they agreed to work toward a "free and open Indo-Pacific" region while strongly opposing any attempts by Beijing to alter the status quo in the East and South China seas by force.
China has criticised the framework as an Asian version of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization seeking to undermine its legitimate rise. (ANI)