Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday said the four countries participating in the first Quad Leaders’ Virtual Summit were united by “democratic values” and will work closely for promoting a stable Indo-Pacific region, reported NDTV.
Besides Modi, United States President Joe Biden, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and his Japanese counterpart Yoshihide Suga also participated in the event. This is the first meeting between Modi and Biden since the latter was elected US president last year.
“It is good to be among friends. I thank President Biden for this initiative,” Modi said during his opening remarks at the virtual summit. “We are united by our democratic values, and our commitment to a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific. Our agenda today – covering areas like vaccines, climate change and emerging technologies – makes the Quad a force for global good.”
The prime minister said that he saw the summit as an extension of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam, a philosophy that considers the world a big family. “We will work together, closer than ever before, for advancing our shared values and promoting a secure, stable and prosperous Indo-Pacific.” he said. “Today’s summit meeting shows that Quad has come of age. It will now remain an important pillar of stability in the region.”
Biden, in his opening remarks, said the Quad will be a vital arena for cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region, reported PTI. He described the alliance as a new mechanism to boost cooperation and raise mutual ambition.
“We know our commitments...Our region is governed by international law, committed to all the universal values and free from coercion but I am optimistic about our prospect,” Biden said.
At the summit, Modi and his Quad counterparts will discuss opportunities for collaboration in ensuring that the Indo-Pacific region gets equitable access to safe and affordable vaccines. An unidentified senior US official told Reuters that the countries also plan to announce agreements to augment the manufacturing of coronavirus vaccines in India.
The officials told the news agency that the initiative will reinforce India’s credentials as a reliable manufacturer and supplier of the vaccines and reaffirm its status as the “pharmacy of the world”.
India had also urged its Quad counterparts to invest in its vaccine production capacity to match China’s vaccine diplomacy, Reuters reported, citing an unidentified Indian government official.
The Quad countries are also expected to build a procurement chain for rare earth metals to counter Chinese dominance in the area, Nikkei reported. China supplies the elements to the manufacturers of everything from motors to smartphones to batteries. China currently accounts for 60% of the world’s rare earths production and its dominance has created supply concerns, according to the newspaper.
Before the virtual meeting, Modi tweeted: “The Summit will provide an opportunity to discuss a wide range of regional and global issues of shared interest.” The summit is expected to focus, among other things, on the vaccine initiative under which coronavirus vaccines will be developed in the US, manufactured in India, financed by Japan and the US, and supported by Australia.
Meanwhile, the US had said earlier this week that Biden made the summit one of his earliest multilateral engagements, and that it showed the importance the country gave to close cooperation with its allies in the Indo-Pacific region.
Last month, foreign ministers of the Quad coalition had met for a virtual summit. India’s Minister of External Affairs S Jaishankar, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne and Japan’s Toshimitsu Motegi reiterated their common vision for a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific.
The Quad countries also vowed to uphold a rules-based international order, underpinned by “respect for territorial integrity and sovereignty, freedom of navigation and peaceful resolution of disputes”.
In October last year, the Second Quad Ministerial Meeting was held in in Tokyo. Former US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had said that the alliance could be a “fabric” to counter Chinese threat. “Once we’ve institutionalised what we’re doing – the four of us together – we can begin to build out a true security framework,” he added.