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Covid, climate, security, China: Highlights from Quad leaders’ summit

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, his Australian counterpart Scott Morrison, Japanese premier Yoshihide Suga and US President Joe Biden vowed to ensure a "free and open" Indo-Pacific.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi |
September 25, 2021 1:44:06 pm
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, US President Joe Biden, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga at Quad Leaders' Summit. (Twitter/PMO)

The global impact of the coronavirus pandemic, security, and climate change were at the forefront of discussions during the first in-person Quad leaders’ summit on Friday. 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, his Australian counterpart Scott Morrison, Japanese premier Yoshihide Suga and US President Joe Biden vowed to ensure a “free and open” Indo-Pacific. In a veiled dig at China, they agreed that the strategically vital region would have to be “inclusive and resilient”. 

“Together, we  recommit to promoting  the free, open, rules-based order, rooted in international law and undaunted by coercion, to bolster security and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific and beyond,” the leaders said in a joint statement. 

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‘Quad to act as force for global good,’ says PM Modi

In a brief opening address, Prime Minister Modi said that he firmly believe the four-member grouping would act as a “force for global good” and will ensure peace and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region. 

“Today, as the world is fighting Covid-19, we as part of Quad have come together again for humanity,” PM Modi said. “Our Quad vaccine initiative will greatly help the Indo-Pacific countries.” 

“On the basis of our shared democratic values, Quad has decided to move forward with a positive thinking and a positive approach. Be it supply chain or global security, climate action or Covid-19 response, or cooperation in technology, I would feel happy to discuss with my partners in Quad,” the Prime Minister went on to say. 

Quad is partner for China or any country in Indo Pacific region, says Australia PM Scott Morrison 

Calling the Quad a “positive” initiative, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said it will help to uplift the wellbeing of the people of the strategically-vital Indo-Pacific region. 

“The Quad is a partner whether it be for China or any other country that is in the Indo Pacific region,” Morrison said. “We’re there to make the region stronger, more prosperous, more stable. It’s a positive initiative designed to lift the wellbeing of the people of the Indo-Pacific.” 

Quad leaders denounce use of ‘terrorist proxies’ in South Asia

In a veiled reference to Pakistan, the four Quad leaders denounced the use of “terrorist proxies” in South Asia, stating the importance of denying any support to terror groups that could potentially launch terror attacks, including cross-border attacks.. 

Noting the tense situation in Afghanistan, the leaders, in a joint statement, reaffirmed that the region should not be used to shelter or train terrorists, or to plan future attacks. 

“We stand together in support of Afghan nationals, and call on the Taliban to provide safe passage to any person wishing to leave Afghanistan, and to ensure that the human rights of all Afghans, including women, children, and minorities are respected,” their statement read. 

Quad leaders cast wary eye on China

Without explicitly mentioning China, the four leaders in a joint statement said they were committed to “promoting the free, open, rules-based order, rooted in  international law and undaunted by coercion.”

“We stand for the rule of law, freedom of navigation and overflight, peaceful resolution of disputes, democratic values and territorial integrity of states,” they said.

“Free and open” is increasingly being used as a veiled code to address and counter China’s increased military manoeuvring in the Indo-Pacific. 

Japanese Premier Suga said that he was “concerned” about Beijing’s assertiveness at sea, the tense situation in Hong Kong, and the reports of violence and abuse faced by the Uyghur community, Japanese foreign ministry spokesman Tomoyuki Yoshida said.

India will export 8 million Covid vaccine doses by end of October 

PM Modi told the Quad leaders that India would make 8 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine available for export by the end of October. “It will be compatible with our decision to export vaccines. The Quad will pay for the vaccine and India will bear a certain share of those. This will be an immediate delivery from the Quad in the Indo-Pacific,” he said. 

This comes after India banned the export of vaccines in April, following the onset of the debilitating second wave of the coronavirus pandemic. 

Quad announces ambitious pacts on climate, cyber security 

In its joint statement, the Quad announced several new pacts to tackle the climate crisis and threat to cyber security. 

Rolling out a 5G partnership, the leaders said, “Acknowledging the role of governments in fostering an enabling environment for 5G diversification, we will work together to facilitate public-private cooperation and demonstrate in 2022 the scalability and cyber security of open, standards-based technology.” 

The Quad summit came just over a week after the US, UK and Australia announced an AUKUS security pact that will provide Australia with nuclear-powered submarines. 

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