Quad leaders discuss ‘key challenges’ at White House summit

Quad leaders discuss ‘key challenges’ at White House summit

US President Joe Biden and the leaders of Japan, Australia, and India are expected to announce several joint initiatives, including efforts to combat climate change and address the COVID pandemic, after the first in-person summit for the Quad Indo-Pacific alliance.The meeting, which lasted two hours on Friday, aimed to cement the partnership amid global challenges and growing competition with China in the Indo-Pacific region.At the start of the meeting, Biden announced a fellowship programme to allow students from the four countries to pursue degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) at US universities.The US president said the countries are “coming together to take on key challenges of our age, from COVID to climate to emerging technologies”.“We know how to get things done, and we are up to the challenge,” Biden added in his opening remarks at the meeting.Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison echoed Biden’s remarks, lauding a push by the four countries announced earlier this year to produce one billion COVID-19 vaccines.“We believe in a free and open Indo-Pacific, because we know that’s what delivers a strong, stable and prosperous region,” Morrison said.The Quad, formally known as the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, is seen as a counterweight to China in the Indo-Pacific region. Its leaders met virtually for the first time in March.“What these four leaders … are really here to discuss is China, and the growing influence of China in all aspects of life, not just for their respective countries, but around the world now,” said Al Jazeera’s White House Correspondent Kimberly Halkett.Earlier on Friday, China criticised the group as “exclusive”, saying it was “doomed to fail”.The Quad summit comes as Washington puts greater emphasis on partnerships in the Indo-Pacific region.Earlier this month, the Biden administration announced a security pact with the United Kingdom and Australia. The new alliance, dubbed AUKUS, will see Washington and London help Canberra acquire nuclear-powered submarines.China strongly condemned AUKUS, calling it an “extremely irresponsible” threat to regional stability.US officials say both the Quad and AUKUS are intended to increase cooperation between allies and are not aimed against any country.“At the outset of the administration, the president indicated that he wanted to take this institution – that’s an informal gathering of leading democracies in the Indo-Pacific – and basically lift it both to the leader level and to ensure that we are working together to build better lines of communication and strengthening cooperation and habits of cooperation amongst us,” a US administration official told reporters before the summit.White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Friday the Quad is “not a security meeting or security apparatus”.Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who met with Biden at the White House earlier on Friday, said the Quad will be a “force for global good”.“I’m confident that our cooperation, under Quad, will ensure prosperity and peace in the Indo-Pacific and in the world,” he said.Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who met with Biden at the White House earlier on Friday, said the Quad will be a “force for global good”.“I’m confident that our cooperation, under Quad, will ensure prosperity and peace in the Indo-Pacific and in the world,” he said.

 

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