First Quad Summit | Quad leaders emphasise ‘open, free’ Asia Pacific at first summit

Focus on vaccines, climate change, emerging tech makes group a force for global good, says PM Modi

Members of the Quadrilateral Framework or ‘Quad’ will become “closer than ever before”, said Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday, in his address to the first ever leadership summit of the grouping.

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Addressing the virtual summit, Mr. Modi, President Joe Biden of the United States, Japanese Premier Yoshihide Suga and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison highlighted cooperation among the member countries to beat the global COVID-19 pandemic, with joint partnership on vaccines, and emphasised the need for an “open” and “free” Asia-Pacific region.

“We are united by our democratic values and our commitment to a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific. Our agenda, covering areas like vaccines, climate change, and emerging technologies make the Quad a force for global good. We will work together, closer than ever before on advancing our shared values and promoting a secure, stable and prosperous Indo-Pacific,” said Mr. Modi, who described the Quadrilateral Framework as an “important pillar of stability in the region.”

The member nations agreed to ensure “equitable” access to vaccines to counter the pandemic. A joint statement, titled ‘The Spirit of the Quad’, said: “We will join forces to expand safe, affordable, and effective vaccine production and equitable access to speed economic recovery and benefit global health.”

Addressing the meeting, President Biden emphasised that the Indo-Pacific region should be governed in accordance to human rights.

‘Big agenda ahead’

“And we’re renewing our commitment to ensure that our region is governed by international law, committed to upholding universal values and free from coercion. We’ve got a big agenda ahead of us,” said Mr. Biden.

Addressing the gathering, Mr. Morrison laid out the agenda of the Quad in the near future and said, “We join together as leaders of nations to welcome, what I think will be a new dawn in the Indo-Pacific through our gathering.”

Prime Minister Suga acknowledged the new dynamism that Quad has received because of the meeting of the top leaders of the member countries.

Also read: The Hindu Profiles | Quad — The confluence of four powers and two seas

“With the four countries working together, I wish to firmly advance our cooperation to realise, a free and open Indo Pacific, and to make a tangible contribution to the peace, stability, and prosperity of the region, including overcoming COVID-19,” he said.

The ‘Quad’, has been taken to the “apex level”, said Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla during a special briefing on the leaders’ summit.

“We are all committed to free and open, inclusive, secure and prosperous Indo-Pacific. Today’s summit adopted a positive vision to address contemporary issues with vaccine cooperation. Leaders agreed to strengthen, peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region,” said Mr Shringla, who described the focus on the vaccines as the “most pressing”.

He informed that Japan, U.S. and Australia will finance the vaccine initiative that India has welcomed.

“We look forward to participating in the initiative whole-heartedly. During the discussion there was wholesome appreciation of the Vaccine Maitri initiative,” said Mr Shringla.

The vaccine expert working group, a critical and emerging technology working group, and a climate working group for technology, capacity building and climate finance have been cleared during the summit. The Foreign Secretary also said the Quad leaders have agreed to meet in person during the coming months.

“The Quad does not stand against anything, it stands for something,” said Mr Shringla, explaining that Quad is a value-based grouping that is trying to deal with the need for vaccines, climate change and other such issues. He informed that the issue of military takeover in Myanmar came up during the discussion among the leaders.

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