US President Joe Biden on Friday spoke to Prime Minister Narendra Modi at a public event for the first time since taking office as the two leaders held a virtual meeting along with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga.
The leaders of the “Quad” group of nations – a regional alliance seen as part of efforts to balance China’s growing military and economic power – discussed “free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific region” as well as the coronavirus pandemic.
“Prime Minister Modi… it’s great to see you,” President Biden, greeted PM Modi as he welcomed him to speak.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, “It is good to be among friends. I thank President Biden for this initiative. We are united by our democratic values and our commitment to a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific. Our agenda today covers areas like vaccines, climate change and emerging technologies make the Quad a force for global good.”
“I see this positive vision as an extension of India’s ancient philosophy of Vasudeiva Kutumbakam which regards the world as one family. We will work together, closer than ever before for advancing our shared values and promoting a secure, stable and prosperous Indo-Pacific,” he said.
“Today’s summit meeting shows that Quad has come of age. It will now remain an important pillar of stability in the region,” added.
President Biden said a free and open Indo-Pacific region was essential to the futures of all four countries.
“A free and open Indo Pacific is essential to each of our futures. The United States is committed to working with you, our partners, and all our allies in the region, to achieve stability,” he told the meeting from the White House.
The White House says the virtual meeting of the countries known as the Quad, the first at leader level, shows the importance Biden places on the Indo-Pacific region and that it will focus on ways to fight the coronavirus pandemic, as well as cooperate on economic growth and the climate crisis.
A senior U.S. official told reporters ahead of the meeting it would involve “an honest, open discussion about China’s role on the global stage,” referencing “challenges in the region” to free and open trade and commerce.
The Biden administration has said the Quad nations will announce financing agreements to support an increase in manufacturing capacity for coronavirus vaccines in India, something New Delhi has called for to counter China’s widening vaccine diplomacy.