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First-ever Quad summit to focus on Indo-Pacific, Covid vaccines

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With a focus on practical cooperation in the Indo-Pacific and Covid vaccine supplies, the first-ever Quad summit will take place on Friday. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, US President Joe Biden, Australian PM Scott Morrison, and Japanese PM Yoshihide Suga will meet virtually at 7 pm IST.

India’s Ministry of External Affairs said the summit “will provide an opportunity to exchange views on contemporary challenges such as resilient supply chains, emerging and critical technologies, maritime security and climate change.”

The leaders “will discuss ongoing efforts to combat Covid-19 pandemic and explore opportunities for collaboration in ensuring safe, equitable and affordable vaccines in the Indo-Pacific region,” it said in a statement.

Quad, short for Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, first came into existence after the 2004 tsunami and was first formalised in 2007. At that time, Australia had issues with the grouping, which again held a meeting a decade later in 2017 at the official level. Since 2019, Quad has had conversations at the foreign ministers’ level, thrice.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said, “That President Biden has made this one of his earliest multilateral engagements speaks to the importance we place on close cooperation with our allies and partners in the Indo- Pacific.” 

“A range of issues, of course, will be discussed — we expect to be discussed, I should say — facing the global community from the threat of Covid, to economic cooperation, and of course, to the climate crisis,” she told reporters.

The Quad meeting comes at a time of increased Chinese aggressiveness, not only in the region but with Quad member countries as well. Beijing has locked horns with Australia and the US on the trade front, Japan over Senkaku islands, and is engaged in a border standoff with India, that has seen disengagement at one area so far.

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