(This was originally posted in India Today by Geeta Mohan)
The first ‘Quadrilateral Security Dialogue’, also known as the Quad leaders’ virtual summit, is all set to take place on March 12.
On Tuesday, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said in an official statement, “Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be participating, along with Prime Minister of Australia Scott Morrison and Prime Minister of Japan Yoshihide Suga and President of USA. Joseph R. Biden, in the first Leaders’ Summit of the Quadrilateral Framework, being held virtually on 12th March 2021.”
A few days ago, similar question was posed to Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison on the importance of the alliance to which he said, “The Quad is very central to the United States and our thinking about the region, and looking at the Indo-Pacific also through the prism of our ASEAN partners and their vision of the Indo-Pacific. So, yes, the Quad is very central, I think, to our ongoing arrangements.”
He added, “And so I am looking forward to that first gathering of the Quad leaders. It will be the first ever such gathering. I have already had bilateral discussions about this with Narendra Modi and Yoshihide Suga, the Prime Minister of Japan, and of course the Prime Minister of India. And of course we’re looking forward to those discussions and follow-up face-to-face meetings as well. This will become a feature of Indo-Pacific engagement.”
The MEA on Tuesday said that the leaders will discuss “bilateral” and “global” issues of “shared interest”.
The focus would certainly be on how to counter China in the Indo-Pacific.
“The Leaders will discuss regional and global issues of shared interest, and exchange views on practical areas of cooperation towards maintaining a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific region. 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,” read the MEA statement.
Ahead of the announcement of the Quad meeting, China had issued a conciliatory hand.
“China and India should stop undercutting each other, shed mutual suspicion and create enabling conditions by expanding bilateral cooperation to resolve the border issue,” Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi had said on Sunday.
The Australian PM emphasised that the Quad is not going to be a big bureaucratic structure with a big secretariat, it is going to be “four leaders, four countries, working together constructively for the peace, prosperity and stability of the Indo-Pacific, which is good for everyone in the Indo-Pacific.”
“It’s particularly good for our ASEAN friends, and those throughout the South-West Pacific, to ensure that they can continue with their own sovereignty and their own certainty for their own futures,” he added.
The Indian statement also asserted that 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.”