PM MODI MEETS PRESIDENT BIDEN: Leaders to talk QUAD in DC

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi takes part in the First Quad LeadersÂ’ Virtual Summit with US President Joe Biden, Australian PM Scott Morrison and Japanese PM Yoshihide Suga (ANI Photo)

After a long gap, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit the US to address the UN General Assembly next week and hold bilateral meetings with Quad leaders including US President Joe Biden. Why is China watching this meeting with great interest?

Our Bureau  
New Delhi/Washington, DC

Prime Minister Narendra Modi would be participating, along with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga of Japan and US President Joseph R Biden, in the Leaders’ Summit of the Quadrilateral Framework in Washington DC, USA, on September 24, 2021.

During the discussion, the leaders will discuss regional issues of shared interest and will also review the progress made since their first virtual Summit that was held on 12 March 2021 “As part of their ongoing efforts to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, they will review the Quad Vaccine initiative which was announced in March this year. They will also exchange views on contemporary global issues such as critical and emerging technologies, connectivity and infrastructure, cyber security, maritime security, humanitarian assistance/disaster relief, climate change and education,” MEA said in a statement.

Recent developments in Afghanistan are also expected to figure prominently in the deliberations. PM Modi is also likely to have one on one meeting with Quad leaders including US President Joe Biden

Modi speaks during the First Quad LeadersÂ’ Virtual Summit as US President Joe Biden looks on. (ANI Photo)

‘The Summit would provide a valuable opportunity for dialogue and interactions among the leaders, anchored in their shared vision of ensuring a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific region.” MEA said in a statement

Prime Minister is scheduled to address the General Debate of the High-Level Segment of the 76th Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on 25 September 2021 in New York. The theme for this year’s General Debate is ‘Building Resilience through hope to recover from COVID-19, rebuild sustainably, respond to the needs of the planet, respect the rights of people, and revitalise the United Nations’.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will hold bilateral meetings with Quad leaders including US President Joe Biden and other foreign leaders during his US visit later this month besides attending the first-in person meeting of Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said on Thursday.

Prime Minister Modi is visiting the US next week. “PM (Modi) will participate in the first in-person Quad leaders’ summit in Washington on September 24. On September 25, he will address the general debate of the UN General Assembly at its 76th session. While the PM is in Washington, he will also have a bilateral meeting with President Biden,” MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said during a press briefing.

“We also look forward to bilateral meetings with other Quad leaders as well as bilateral meetings with some other leaders while he is in New York on September 25,” he added.

Prime Minister is scheduled to address the General Debate of the High-Level Segment of the 76th Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on 25 September 2021 in New York.

Australian Navy Ship HMAS Ballarat, a frigate, made a port call at Mormugao Port after completing Phase I of quadrilateral Naval exercise ‘Malabar’ in the Bay of Bengal, HMAS Ballarat is proceeding to participate in Phase II of the exercise in the Arabian Sea in November last year (ANI Photo)

Ahead of a maiden in-person meeting called by US president Joe Biden in Washington later this month, India said Quad should not be perceived as a grouping with limited agenda as it has a broad and substantive agenda.

Speaking to US-based academician Ashley Tellis on the Indian Ocean and its impact on regional security, External Affairs Minister (EAM) S Jaishankar said, ” Rebalancing, need to treat Indo-Pacific in a more integrated manner, the political reflection of all these changes are expressed in Quad. Again I want to highlight Quad has agenda that extends to multiple domains, much broader cooperation. And to make it in a sense to give it a sharp edge and a very limited agenda partly is gamesmanship of critics. But it partly also headlines kind of attitude and not a full understanding of really what is happening because as we see later on in the month, I think Quad has an increasing agenda and a substantive agenda in multiple spheres of activities.” Prime Minister Narendra Modi would be participating in the Leaders’ Summit of the Quadrilateral Framework in Washington along with his US, Japanese and Australian counterparts on September 24.

Remarks from Indian External Affairs are significant as it comes after China slammed Quad and said the formation of “exclusive cliques” targeting other countries runs counter to the trend of the times and is “doomed to fail”.

When asked about fragmentation and unification in the region by the think tank representative, EAM Jaishankar emphasised on cooperation reflected by Quad nations, he said, “Quad as an example it is an effort of cooperation, the effort of cooperation between four countries who are located on the four corners of Indo-Pacific but are all impelled by a sense of responsibility. Our duty towards a global cause who have a comfort towards each other. Each one of us made an extra effort, it wasn’t something predestined. In fact, recent history was a little different. We all tried to overcome that approach of global responsibility with a more open mind. There are other efforts East Asia Summit and ASEAN also add to this.”

Jaishankar said, “Some weeks ago I had spoken at some length contrasting how Europe has dealt with these challenges than Asia. The fact is that we in Asia are struggling for a variety of reasons, a lot of it you are going to see now which you are already seeing these are those efforts. It’s a big region. Very complicated region. It will have many building blocks of many kinds and the right thing is to be open to all of them rather than get into binary of with me against me kind of thing.”

Operational preparedness of Snow Leopard Brigade through Integrated Manoeuvre and Live Fire Exercise underway at a super high altitude area in Ladakh near the border with China (ANI)

Meanwhile, the House Foreign Affairs Committee which is responsible for foreign policy legislation and oversight on Thursday (local time) said America is strongest and most effective when they work together with their friends in reference to the announcement of new defence partnership AUKUS, focussing on Indo-Pacific.

The House Committee also informed that US President Joe Biden will be hosting the first in-person Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad) leaders’ summit comprising Australia, India, Japan and the US. “America is strongest and most effective when we work together with our friends. In addition to #AUKUS – Australia, UK and US, next week @POTUS will host the first in-person Quad leaders’ summit,” tweeted House Foreign Affairs Committee.

Australia, the UK and the US on Wednesday announced an enhanced trilateral security partnership called “AUKUS” to deepen diplomatic, security, and defence cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region.

As the first initiative under AUKUS Australia in acquiring nuclear-powered submarines for the Royal Australian Navy, added the statement.

“First major initiative of AUKUS will be an 18-month effort to deliver a nuclear-powered submarine fleet for Australia. We will seek to determine the best way forward to achieve this. We intend to build these submarines in Australia in close cooperation with the UK and the US,” said Morrison.

The development of Australia’s nuclear-powered submarines would be a joint endeavour between the three nations, with a focus on interoperability, commonality, and mutual benefit.

In a related development, China on Tuesday slammed the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad) upcoming summit on September 24 saying that the group was “closed, exclusive, and targeted small circles…unpopular and have no way out.”

In a media briefing, when Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian was asked about the upcoming Quad summit, he said, “The closed, exclusive, and targeted ‘small circles’ against other countries go against the trend of the times and run counter to the aspirations of regional countries. They are unpopular and have no way out.”

China earlier termed Quad as an “Asian NATO”, which was vehemently opposed by the External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar at the inaugural 2+2 ministerial meeting between India and Australia.

“Quad is a platform where four countries have come to cooperate for their benefit and benefit of the world. I think a term like NATO (by China) is a Cold war term, looking back. The quad looks at the future. It reflects globalisation and the compulsion of countries to work together,” EAM Jaishankar said while responding to a question on China referring to Quad as “Asian NATO”.

Citing various areas of cooperation between the Quad nations, EAM Jaishankar spoke against the misinterpretation of reality and said that there is no relation between the terms NATO and Quad.

Zhao also said that any “regional cooperation mechanism should not target or harm the interests of third parties.”

In a veiled threat to Quad, he said that they “should abandon outdated zero-sum game thinking and narrow geopolitical concepts.”

“Relevant countries should abandon outdated zero-sum game thinking and narrow geopolitical concepts, take a correct view of China’s development, respect the hearts of the people in the region, and do more things that are conducive to promoting the unity and cooperation of regional countries,” Zhao added.

China has always seen Quad with suspicion. It had reacted strongly against the first virtual meeting of Quad leaders in March. When the Quad leaders meet in Washington, DC next week, China will be the main menu on the table discussion.  

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