US President to host first-ever in-person Quad Summit on Sep 24
PM Modi to attend, will hold bilateral talks
Washington: US President Joe Biden will host the first-ever in-person Quad summit on September 24 that will be attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Japanese premier Yoshihide Suga, the White House has announced, signalling Washington’s focus on the Indo-Pacific region in the face of China’s growing economic and military clout.
The four leaders would discuss promoting a free and open Indo-Pacific, addressing the climate crisis and deepening their ties and advancing practical cooperation on areas like combatting COVID-19, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said on Monday.
They will also discuss partnering on emerging technologies and cyberspace, she said.
President Joseph R Biden, Jr will host the first-ever Quad Leaders Summit at the White House on September 24. President Biden is looking forward to welcoming to the White House Prime Minister Scott Morrison of Australia, Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India, and Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga of Japan, Psaki said.
The Biden-Harris administration has made elevating the Quad a priority, as seen through the first-ever Quad Leaders-level engagement in March, which was virtual, and now this Summit, which will be in-person, Psaki said.
In March, President Biden hosted the first-ever summit of the Quad leaders in a virtual format that vowed to strive for an Indo-Pacific region that is free, open, inclusive, anchored by democratic values and unconstrained by coercion, sending a message to China which has been behaving aggressively in the region.
Hosting the leaders of the Quad demonstrates the Biden-Harris administration’s priority of engaging in the Indo-Pacific, including through new multilateral configurations to meet the challenges of the 21st century, Psaki said.
In New Delhi, the Ministry of External Affairs said the four leaders will review progress made since their first virtual Summit on March 12 and discuss regional issues of shared interest.
The Summit would provide a valuable opportunity for dialogue and interactions among the leaders, anchored in their shared vision of ensuring a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific region, the MEA said in a press release on Tuesday.
As part of their ongoing efforts to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, the leaders will review the Quad Vaccine initiative which was announced in March this year.
They will also exchange views on contemporary global issues such as critical and emerging technologies, connectivity and infrastructure, cyber security, maritime security, humanitarian assistance/disaster relief, climate change and education, the MEA said.
In Tokyo, Japan’s top government spokesman, Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato told a press conference, “The Japanese government hopes there will be candid discussions among the leaders on common issues the region faces, including the promotion of the free and open Indo-Pacific and response to the novel coronavirus pandemic.”
The meeting at the White House on Sept. 24 will take place even though Suga has expressed his intention not to seek re-election as the leader of Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party when it holds its presidential election on Sept. 29, meaning the party will choose his successor as prime minister.
Although Suga is stepping down, it is important to strengthen relations with the other member countries at this time to ensure a smooth transition to the next premier, Kato was quoted as saying by Japan’s Kyodo News.
In Canberra, Australian Prime Minister Morrison said the “reconvening this important group reinforces our commitment to the Indo-Pacific COVID-19 recovery, and our efforts towards peace, prosperity and stability in our region.”
“The Quad represents four great democracies working in partnership for an Indo-Pacific region that is open, inclusive, resilient and anchored by shared principles,” Morrison said in a statement.
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.
Known as the ‘Quadrilateral Security Dialogue’, the representatives for the four-member nations — US, India, Australia and Japan — have met periodically since its establishment in 2007.
The evolving situation in the strategically vital Indo-Pacific region in the wake of China’s aggressive muscle-flexing has become a major talking point among leading global powers.
China is engaged in hotly contested territorial disputes in the South and East China seas. Beijing has also made substantial progress in militarising its man-made islands in the past few years. Beijing claims sovereignty over all of the South China Sea. But Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines, Brunei and Taiwan have counterclaims. In the East China Sea, China has territorial disputes with Japan.
Both maritime areas in the South and East China seas are rich in minerals, oil and other natural resources. The South China Sea is also a vital commercial gateway for a substantial portion of the world’s merchant shipping. Thus it is a vital economic and strategic sub-region of the Indo-Pacific region.