Leaders of the four-nation Quad grouping met in person for the first time in Washington DC today, where they discussed key challenges facing the world, from COVID-19 to climate change. Opening the address, Prime Minister Narendra Modi thanked US President Joe Biden for hosting the Quad meeting, where Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga were also present.
“Our four nations met for the first time after the 2004 Tsunami to help the Indo-Pacific region. Today, when the world is fighting against COVID-19 pandemic, we have come here once again as Quad for the welfare of humanity,” PM Modi said. “Our Quad vaccine initiative will greatly help the Indo-Pacific countries,” he said.
The Prime Minister added he was “confident that our participation in Quad will establish peace and prosperity in the world.”
The Quad also stressed that backing for a “free and open” Asia is an important objective.
In his opening remarks, President Biden said the four democracies – the US, India, Australia and Japan – have come together to take on common challenges from Covid to climate. “We know how to get things done and are up to the challenge,” he said.
The Australian Prime Minister said the Indo-Pacific region should be free from coercion and disputes should be solved in accordance with international law. “The Indo-Pacific has great challenges and challenges have to be overcome. In six months from the last meeting so much has been accomplished. We stand here together in the Info Pacific region,” he said.
For the US, the Quad meeting marks another step to reviving a US focus on diplomatic efforts, following its dramatic exit from the 20-year Afghanistan war. Of three regional groupings that Washington leads in its strategic chess game to manage China’s ascent, the Quad is deliberately the most open. The other two are the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing alliance, comprising Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States, and the newest arrival on the block – AUKUS.
The Quad nations have maintained they are not meant to rival or undermine the preeminent regional grouping ASEAN, which includes China, and it is not a military alliance.
However, competition with China is at least as strong outside the military domain, including in the effort to supply poorer countries with vaccines — where the US is by far the world’s top donor — and in stimulating pandemic-battered economies.
With inputs from AFP