In his first multilateral summit, President Joseph Biden virtually hosted the leaders of Australia, India and Japan, countries that, along with the United States, make up the informal diplomatic group known as the Quad.
First formed in 2007, the Quad has strengthened in recent years in the face of growing challenges, among them aggressive moves by the People’s Republic of China.
At the March 12 meeting, President Biden said all Quad leaders were united in their concern for “a free and open Indo-Pacific.” He pledged to work with Quad partners “and all our allies in the
region to achieve stability” and to forge practical solutions that achieve concrete results. The agenda for the summit included COVID-19 and its response; climate change; and emerging technologies, among other issues.
Following the meeting, the four leaders – Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison joined President Biden in authoring an op-ed published in the Washington Post newspaper. The four leaders said they “are striving to ensure that the Indo-Pacific is accessible and dynamic, governed by international law and bedrock principles such as freedom of navigation and peaceful resolution of disputes, and that all countries are able to make their own political choices, free from coercion.”
They agreed to “partner and address the challenges presented by new technologies and collaborate on norms and standards that govern the innovations of the future.” Acknowledging the urgent global problem of climate change, they promised to work together to strengthen the Paris agreement and enhance climate actions of all nations.
The four leaders also expressed their determination to end the COVID-19 pandemic, and announced they would combine their “scientific ingenuity, financing, formidable productive capacity and long history of global-health partnership to surge the supply of life-saving vaccines, in close collaboration with multilateral organizations, including the World Health Organization and Covax Facility.”
Noting the suffering the world has endured over the past months, the leaders of Australia, India, Japan and the United States called their “partnership…a spark of hope to light the path ahead. Our foundations of democracy and a commitment to engagement unite us,” they wrote. “We know we can provide for the safety and prosperity of our people at home by confronting global crises together, with purpose and resolve.”