Modi to attend the first in-person Quad summit Biden hosts at White House
Indian prime minister Narendra Modi (Photo by PRAKASH SINGH/AFP via Getty Images)
INDIAN prime minister Narendra Modi will take part in the first in-person summit of leaders of the “Quad” countries – Australia, India, Japan and the US, which President Joe Biden will host in Washington on September 24
India’s ministry of external affairs (MEA) said on Tuesday (14) that Modi will also address the ‘General Debate’ of the high-level segment of the 76th session of the UN General Assembly in New York the next day.
“Prime Minister Narendra Modi would be participating, along with Prime Minister Scott Morrison of Australia, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga of Japan and President Joseph R Biden of USA, in the Leaders’ Summit of the Quadrilateral Framework in Washington DC, USA, on September 24,” the MEA said in a statement.
At an online meeting of the Quad leaders in March, Quad leaders pledged to work closely on Covid-19 vaccines and climate and ensure a free and open Indo-Pacific in the face of challenges from Beijing.
“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,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said.
Biden’s Indo-Pacific coordinator, Kurt Campbell, said in July the long-planned in-person meeting should bring “decisive” commitments on vaccine diplomacy and infrastructure.
Biden, who is pushing big infrastructure spending at home, said in March he had suggested to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson that democratic countries should have an infrastructure plan to rival China’s massive Belt and Road Initiative, which features projects from East Asia to Europe.
Psaki said the Quad Leaders would “be focused on deepening our ties and advancing practical cooperation on areas such as combating Covid-19, addressing the climate crisis, partnering on emerging technologies and cyberspace, and promoting a free and open Indo-Pacific.”
A senior US official said infrastructure would be among a range of topics discussed at the in-person summit.
In Beijing on Tuesday (14), a foreign ministry spokesman said, “China believes any regional cooperation framework should go with the trend of the times and be conducive.”
The spokesman, Zhao Lijian, told a regular briefing, “It should not target any third party.”
The Quad meeting comes after Biden’s image has taken a battering over the chaotic US withdrawal from Afghanistan. US officials have said ending America’s longest war will allow it to divert resources and attention to tackling China-related issues.
Senator Bill Hagerty, a Republican, and former US ambassador to Japan, welcomed the plan to host the Quad leaders.
“Biden’s Afghanistan withdrawal debacle made India’s neighborhood more dangerous & raises legitimate questions for Japan and Australia as well, so it’s good we will be hosting Quad partners soon,” he said on Twitter.
“We must repair and renew our alliances, and this one is key.”
The vaccines initiative of the first summit stalled after India, the world’s largest producer, was hit by a catastrophic wave of infections and halted vaccine exports.
At the March summit, the four leaders had agreed that Indian drugmaker Biological E Ltd would produce at least a billion doses by the end of 2022, mainly for Southeast Asian and Pacific countries.
Last week, Japan’s Kyodo News said Suga would visit Washington this month for the Quad meeting even though his term as leader of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, and thus, as prime minister, ends on Sept. 30.
Suga became the first leader to hold a face-to-face White House summit with Biden in April, underscoring Japan’s central role in US efforts to face down China.