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QUAD democracies — India, Japan, Australia and US — outline vision of shared future in the Indo-Pacific

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, US President Joe Biden and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison at the White House (Image courtesy: Twitter/@POTUS)

Deeply concerned with China's growing presence in the region, Quad partners India, United States, Japan and Australia have pledged to promote the free, open, rules-based order – which is "rooted in international law and undaunted by coercion" – to bolster security in the Indo-Pacific and beyond. 

After a historic, first in-person Quad summit in Washington Friday night, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, US President Joe Biden, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga recommitted to their partnership – and to a region that they described as a "bedrock" of their shared security and prosperity.

The grouping also reaffirmed its strong support for unity, centrality and outlook of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on the Indo-Pacific, saying it will continue to work together with its member states — the heart of the Indo-Pacific region — in practical and inclusive ways.

"We stand for the rule of law, freedom of navigation and overflight, peaceful resolution of disputes, democratic values, and territorial integrity of states. We commit to work together and with a range of partners," the leaders said in a joint statement after the talks at the White House.

Making it clear that their shared future will be written in the Indo-Pacific, the leaders pledged to "redouble" their efforts to ensure that the Quad is a force for regional peace, stability, security, and prosperity.

Quad Meeting

Prime Minister Narendra Modi attending the Quad meeting at the White House on Friday (Image courtesy: Twitter/@NarendraModi)

Vowing to meet challenges to the maritime rules-based order, including in the East and South China Seas, they also affirmed their support to small island states, especially those in the Pacific, to enhance their economic and environmental resilience.

The Quad partners said that their cooperation remains "unflinching" in spite of some testing times since they last met virtually in March which has seen Covid-19 pandemic causing continued global suffering,  the climate crisis accelerating and regional security becoming ever-more complex, "testing all of our countries individually and together".

The joint statment not only focused on the pressing challenges – Covid-19, climate crisis, critical and emerging technologies – but also announced new cooperation in cyber space and a Quad Fellowship for students of the four countries.  

Taking their Quad Vaccine Partnership to another level, India, Australia, Japan and the United States pledged to donate more than 1.2 billion doses globally of Covid-19 vaccines which would be in addition to the doses financed through COVAX.

The Quad also welcomed India's announcement to resume exports of "safe and effective" Covid-19 vaccines, including to COVAX, beginning in October 2021.

Strengthening its Science and Technology (S&T) cooperation in the areas of clinical trials and genomic surveillance, the Quad partners have also announced plans to conduct a joint pandemic-preparedness tabletop or exercise in 2022.

In order to tackle the climate crisis, the Quad countries said they will work together to keep the Paris-aligned temperature limits within reach and will pursue efforts to limit it to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.

"They will also work together for successful outcomes at the COP26 and G20 that uphold the level of climate ambition and innovation that this moment requires," said the grouping.

The four countries continue to monitor trends in the critical and emerging technologies of the future, beginning with biotechnology. The partners announced the launching of 'Quad Principles on Technology Design, Development, Governance, and Use' that will guide not only the region but the world towards responsible, open, high-standards innovation.

The four countries also announced the launching of a new Quad infrastructure partnership to map the region’s infrastructure needs.

Beginning new cooperation in cyber space to combat cyber threats, promote resilience, and secure critical infrastructure, the Quad partners will identify new collaboration opportunities. It would include sharing satellite data for peaceful purposes such as monitoring climate change, disaster response and preparedness, sustainable uses of oceans and marine resources, and on responding to challenges in shared domains.

Another big announcement, the 'Quad Fellowship', will provide 100 graduate fellowships to leading science, technology, engineering, and mathematics graduate students across the four countries.

"Through the Quad Fellowship, our next generation of STEM talent will be prepared to lead the Quad and other like-minded partners towards the innovations that will shape our shared future," the four countries announced.

Deciding to closely coordinate diplomatic, economic, and human-rights policies towards Afghanistan, the grouping said it will deepen its counter-terrorism and humanitarian cooperation in the months ahead in accordance with UNSCR 2593.

They reaffirmed that Afghan territory should not be used to threaten or attack any country or to shelter or train terrorists, or to plan or to finance terrorist acts, and reiterated the importance of combating terrorism in Afghanistan.

"We denounce the use of terrorist proxies and emphasised the importance of denying any logistical, financial or military support to terrorist groups which could be used to launch or plan terror attacks, including cross-border attacks," said the Quad partners.  

They also reaffirmed their commitment to the complete denuclearization of North Korea in accordance with United Nations Security Council resolutions and called for the end to violence in Myanmar.

Maintaining that their commitment to realize a free and open Indo-Pacific remains "firm" and vision for partnership "ambitious and far-reaching", the Quad grouping said that its leaders and foreign ministers will meet annually to produce the cooperation necessary to build a stronger region.

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