Washington: President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide are likely to announce on Friday the next in-person meeting of the Quad leaders, which also include prime ministers of India and Australia, according to a senior US official.
Suga, who arrived here on Thursday night, is scheduled to meet Biden at the White House on Friday.
This would be Biden’s first in-person bilateral meeting with a foreign leader amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We view the Quad, even though it’s an unofficial gathering, as a huge part of the architecture of the Indo-Pacific going forward,” said the senior administration official on the eve of the historic visit.
Confirming that Biden and Suga would hold a discussion on the Quad, the senior administration official said that the two leaders are likely to discuss and announce when they may have the next four-person meeting.
“I think the two leaders are going to review the progress to date on this and underscore future plans of what we want to do in the Quad going forward,” the official said ahead of the US-Japan bilateral.
Quad is the grouping of India, the US, Japan and Australia.
On March 12, leaders of the four Quad countries — Prime Minister Narendra Modi, his Australian counterpart Scott Morrison, US President Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Suga — held their first virtual summit under the framework of the Quadrilateral coalition with the growing global concerns over China’s increasing assertiveness in the strategic Indo-Pacific region in its immediate backdrop.
In a firm message to China, Biden told leaders of the Quad coalition that a “free and open” Indo-Pacific is essential to their countries and vowed that the US was committed to working with its partners and allies in the region to achieve stability amidst Beijing’s coercive actions.
In a joint statement released after the meeting, the leaders reaffirmed their commitment to quadrilateral cooperation between their countries.
The US official said Biden and Suga will also discuss the COVID-19 vaccine.
“The (Japanese) Prime Minister will underscore the commitment .. the Quad partners agreed to put in place an initiative with Japanese and American financing, both direct and leveraged, along with the J&J vaccine from the United States, that we would take steps to improve and invest in vaccine capacity in India — to the point that we would expect to — over the course of the next 12 to 14 months, to do about a billion doses, which would be directed into Southeast Asia, in particular,” said the senior Biden administration official.
For the Biden administration, Quad is one of the most important areas.
“You saw President Biden ask his Secretary of State (Antony Blinken) and Secretary of Defence (Lloyd Austin) to go to both Japan and South Korea — and then for Secretary Austin, down to India — as part of their first visits,” the official said.