The first historic leadership level meeting of the Quad began with an important message from the leaders on how this forum will be a source of stability in the Indo-Pacific region in a post-Covid world.
During his opening remarks, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that the ‘Quadrilateral Security Dialogue’, also known as the Quad, has “come of age”.
“Today’s summit meeting shows that Quad has come of age. It will now remain an important pillar of stability in the region,” PM Modi said.
The leaders discussed Chinese aggression in the region during the Covid-19 pandemic and strong “opposition” to China’s “unilateral” attempts to change the “status quo”. Sources said situation at the India-China border was also discussed and “Indian concerns found sympathetic response from leaders”.
After the meet, Prime Minister of Japan tweeted, “I proposed and agreed with countries such as ASEAN toward the realization of a free and open Indo-Pacific. I also appealed for serious concerns about the situation in Myanmar and for strong opposition to China’s unilateral attempts to change the status quo.”
Indian Foreign Secretary Harsh Shringla said that all “contemporary” issues came up in the Quad talks.
US President Joe Biden said in his opening remarks, “It’s also the first multilateral summit that I’ve had the opportunity to host as President. And on this — and on this moment, it’s a purpose that I think we all are concerned about: a free and open Indo-Pacific is essential to each of our futures, our countries.”
The summit focused on the centrality of ASEAN as well. The discussions focused on post-pandemic recovery, resilient supply chains and maritime security.
India takes lead on vaccine talks
On the vaccine front, the Quad leaders launched the ‘Quad Vaccine Initiative’ for capacity building and ensuring affordable vaccine to the whole of the Indo-Pacific.
India took the lead and Prime Minister Modi spoke of the positive vision of “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam” which translates to ‘world as one family’.
The big push was on India being a reliable partner in a resilient global supply chain.
“The Quad vaccine initiative is perhaps the most pressing and important. The four countries have planned to pool their financial resources, manufacturing capabilities and capacities and logistical strengths so as to ramp up the production and distribution of the Covid-19 vaccines in the Indo-Pacific region,” Foreign Secretary Harsh V Shringla said.
The Quad has committed to deliver 1 billion doses to the region by 2022. US National Security Advisor in a press interaction in Washington DC said, “The Quad committed to delivering at least one billion doses to ASEAN, the Indo-Pacific and beyond by the end of 2022… We discussed both cyber attacks and semi-conductors to make sure we don’t have shortage of critical material going forward whether it is semi-conductors or rare earths.”
India welcomed this initiative as it recognises her manufacturing capabilities and pledged to wholeheartedly take part in this endeavour.
“This is a vaccine supply chain built by trust and built to convey trust,” said FS Shringla.
The leaders also committed that they would meet in-person before the end of the year and launched three Expert Working Groups:
Vaccine Expert Working Group – to implement our path-breaking commitment to safe and effective vaccine distribution;
Critical and emerging-technology working group – to facilitate cooperation on international standards and innovative technologies of the future; and
Climate working group – to strengthen climate actions globally on mitigation, adaptation, resilience, technology, capacity building and climate finance.
“At the leader level, wewill holdanin-personsummitby the end of 2021.The ambition of these engagements is fit to the moment; we are committed to leveraging our partnership to help the world’s most dynamic region respond to historic crisis, so that it may be the free, open, accessible, diverse, and thriving Indo-Pacific we all seek,” said the joint statement.
“It could be in the margins of a major summit where all four leaders are present. It could also be in the United States or one of the concerned countries,” said Shringla.
The next big multilateral event is the G7 summit that will take place in June in London where Prime Minister Modi has been invited as a guest.
The meeting of the Quad leaders could take place on the sidelines of the summit.