US says Biden wants ‘more direct engagement’ with Quad partners


FILE PHOTO: Foreign ministers S Jaishankar (India), Toshimitsu Motegi (Japan), Marise Payne (Australia) and US secretary of state Mike Pompeo pose for a picture prior to the Quad meeting in Tokyo, Japan October 6, 2020. (Kiyoshi Ota/Pool via REUTERS)
FILE PHOTO: Foreign ministers S Jaishankar (India), Toshimitsu Motegi (Japan), Marise Payne (Australia) and US secretary of state Mike Pompeo pose for a picture prior to the Quad meeting in Tokyo, Japan October 6, 2020. (Kiyoshi Ota/Pool via REUTERS)

US President Joe Biden looks forward to engaging with his counterparts in Australia, India and Japan in the Indo-Pacific region soon, a senior administration official has said.

“President Biden has had warm and productive early conversations with his counterparts in Australia, India, and Japan, and looks forward to engaging even more directly with our partners in the Indo-Pacific as soon as possible,” the official told PTI.

In less than 50 days after being sworn in as the president, Biden and his administration, including secretary of state Tony Blinken, defence secretary Lloyd Austin and national security advisor Jake Sullivan have had unprecedented engagement with their counterparts from Quad countries.

In 2017, Japan, India, Australia and the US gave shape to the long-pending proposal of setting up the ‘Quad’ or the Quadrilateral coalition to counter China’s aggressive behaviour in the Indo-Pacific region.

Quad already had its first meeting of its foreign ministers last year, and the Japanese media last month reported that a Quad summit is in the works.

In February, the Pentagon also said it supports such a meeting.

According to reports, Biden plans to meet leaders of Japan, Australia and India in a virtual Quad summit this month.

“By putting a Quad meeting on the president’s schedule, the White House is signaling the importance of partnerships and alliances to counter China’s growing influence in the Indo-Pacific region,” reports added.

Acting assistant secretary of east Asian and Pacific affairs Sung Kim, in his address to the 27th US-Japan security summit on Wednesday (3), said that the US and Japan are also working closely together with India and Australia through the Quad.

“Secretary Blinken and the other Quad foreign ministers met on February 18 and committed to meeting at least annually at the ministerial level, and on a regular basis at senior and working levels, to strengthen cooperation on advancing a free and open Indo-Pacific region,” he said.

During the meeting, top diplomats from four countries discussed countering disinformation, counter terrorism, maritime security, the urgent need to restore the democratically elected government in Burma, and the priority of strengthening democratic resilience in the broader region.

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