In the first summit under the Quadrilateral Framework (Quad) on Friday 12 March, the leaders of India, United States, Japan and Australia will come together and meet virtually to discuss on better access for vaccines, cooperation on technology, maritime security, and climate change.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be joined by US President Joe Biden, Australian PM Scott Morrison and Japanese PM Yoshihide Suga – the first time leaders of the Indo-Pacific grouping are meeting. This is going to be one of Mr. Biden’s first multilateral engagements after he sworn in as President in January. The leaders will “exchange views on practical areas of cooperation towards maintaining a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific”. The summit is expected to begin at 7 p.m. IST on Friday.
In February 18, when the foreign ministers of the four Quad countries had met virtually, they discussed the need for international cooperation to ensure the equitable distribution of safe and affordable vaccines in the Indo-Pacific region. India is the world’s largest manufacturer of vaccines, and has already supplied more than 50 million doses to 65 countries.
It is being expected that the Quad summit will announce a vaccine initiative to combat the Covid-19 pandemic, wherein the vaccines will be developed in the US, manufactured in India, financed by Japan and US, and supported by Australia.
The global leaders will also be discussing political issues in the Indo-Pacific region, including that of Myanmar, Afghanistan, and China. Brutal crackdowns on protestors in Myanmar continue, where the military rulers have arrested the elected government officials. In Afghanistan, the U.S. has outlined its latest plan for peace talks to plan out a possible exit of its troops from the conflict. Meanwhile, India and China are amidst nearly a year-long standoff between troops in Ladakh at the Line of Actual Control. The Quad summit is thus expected to have some strong outcomes pertaining to Indo-US, Indo-China, and Us-China relations. It is also to be seen if whether the four leaders will issue a joint statement at the end of the meeting – asserting their unity against the growing challenge of China.