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Quad to get big boost as Modi, Biden, Morrison, Suga set to meet for ‘Indo-Pacific engagement’

Australia PM Scott Morrison hinted Friday that such a meeting may be on the cards. ‘...I am looking forward to that first gathering of the Quad leaders,’ he said.

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New Delhi: In a virtual meeting that is set to give a big push to the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue or Quad, US President Joe Biden, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and Prime Minister Narendra Modi are likely to soon hold their first-ever meeting under the banner. 

The meeting, to be organised at Washington’s behest, will take place later this month or early in April, according to highly placed sources.

Morrison hinted at a press conference Friday that such a meeting may be on the cards. “…I am looking forward to that first gathering of the Quad leaders. It will be the first ever such gathering,” he said.

The US, Australia and Japan, sources said, want to hold the meeting this month itself even as India is yet to “formally confirm”.

“No formal decision has been taken yet,” a senior official, who refused to be identified, told ThePrint.

Sources said the White House is likely to make an announcement in this regard later Friday.

The planned meeting of the Quad leaders comes days after the member nations’ foreign ministers met virtually for their third informal session on 18 February. The meeting took place in the backdrop of India and China’s efforts to pursue disengagement at all friction points in Ladakh.

When the Quad Summit happens, it will also be the first event where Modi and Biden will come together since the latter assumed charge as President this January.

Also Read: India, Japan cooperating in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka to strengthen Quad — envoy Suzuki

‘Four leaders, four countries’

Speaking about the Quad, Morrison said it “will be four leaders, four countries, working together constructively for the peace, prosperity and stability of the Indo-Pacific, which is good for everyone in the Indo-Pacific”. 

“The President and indeed, the Secretary of State, have made clear that their re-engagement in multilateral organisations, particularly in the Indo-Pacific, is key to building stability and peace in the Indo-Pacific. We share that view. We encourage that view. And we strongly welcome that view,” he added. “And so I am looking forward to that first gathering of the Quad leaders. It will be the first ever such gathering,” Morrison said.

Morrison stated that he had discussed this issue with Biden, Suga and Modi in recent conversations. “And of course we’re looking forward to those discussions and follow-up face-to-face meetings as well. This will become a feature of Indo-Pacific engagement,” he said.  

Modi and Morrison spoke to each other on 18 February, hours before the Quad foreign affairs ministers’ meeting.

At the meeting, according to a statement issued by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), the ministers “recognised that the changes underway in the world make a strong case for their countries working closely together … It was important for the international community that the direction of changes remains positive and beneficial to all”. 

The same month, the US Pentagon said India is a “critical partner, especially when you consider all of the challenges in the Indo-Pacific region”. 

US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said in January the Quad grouping is a “foundation upon which to build substantial American policy in the Indo-Pacific region”.  

China has been critical of Quad, and has referred to it as a “mini NATO”. Russia believes the Indo-Pacific policy within which the Quad operates is “anti-China”.

The Quad countries also held a joint maritime drill under the Malabar Exercise in November 2020. 

This report has been updated with additional information

Also Read: Quad is in keeping with times and rise of India is good for the world, says S Jaishankar


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