International

US plans first in-person meeting of Quad leaders in fall

New Delhi/Washington, June 9 (UNI): The United States is planning to host the first in-person summit with Australia, India and Japan in Washington in the fall.

“Our goal is to hold an in-person Quad meeting” to take place “here in Washington in the fall with all leaders in attendance, Kurt Campbell, White House coordinator for the Indo-Pacific, said at a think-tank event on Tuesday.

In March, President Joe Biden, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had met virtually.

At the meeting, the leaders agreed to work toward delivering up to 1 billion doses of Covid-19 vaccine to Southeast Asia and elsewhere by the end of 2022 through a substantial increase in production capacity in India.

Campbell said that timeline remains intact despite a devastating surge in infections in India.

“We will ensure that we’ve taken the necessary steps on the vaccine deliverable, we intend to build on that. We want to do something constructive with respect to infrastructure,” he said.

The four democratic nations have been seeking to counter the “vaccine diplomacy” of China, which is offering shots to developing countries as it expands its influence.

“I think we’re going to take some other steps to build out the Quad to ensure that as an unofficial gathering, it still is the defining feature of modern diplomacy linking these key maritime democracies in a way that is deeply consequential for the 21st century,” Japan’s Kyodo News quoted Campbell as saying.

Known formally as the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue and originally formed in 2004 in response to the Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami, has also stepped up defence cooperation, including holding joint naval exercises, in the face of China’s increasing assertiveness in surrounding waters.

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