U.S. President Joe Biden met on the sidelines of the G-7 meeting Saturday in Hiroshima with the other three heads of state at the Quad Leader’s Summit.
The Quad leaders from the United States, Australia, Japan and India quickly rescheduled their talks originally slated for next week in Sydney so Biden could return to Washington for federal debt limit negotiations.
In opening comments, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese depicted the region as one “where sovereignty is respected and all countries, large and small, benefit from a regional balance that keeps the peace.”
The Quad supports infrastructure, security, climate, health and technology for the Indo-Pacific region. It mainly weaves together cooperation between groups to solve the region’s problems.
Among other initiatives, it announced Saturday a partnership with the Georgetown University Law Center to provide fellowships to design infrastructure projects. Another initiative to develop undersea internet connectivity cables has Australia designing the $5 million program and the U.S. overseeing technical and security aspects.
Hosting Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida referenced the ongoing war in Ukraine. “Russia’s violent acts have continued, and the security environment is all the harsher. A free and open international rules-based order is under threat,” he said.
Sheila Smith is the senior fellow for Asia-Pacific studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. She noted that while one member of the group, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has not been comfortable with past Quad denunciations of Russia, “Modi’s continued investment in the Quad demonstrates its importance.”
Smith went on to underscore the Pacific Islands are receiving more attention “given China’s open attempt to court support and security cooperation there,” and this year’s agenda is “technology driven.” She said she expects future goals to be quite detailed.
Biden spoke of the area’s global impact: “A great deal of the future of our world is going to be written here in the Indo-Pacific, and together I think that we’re going to continue to ensure that the future provides more opportunity, prosperity and stability.”
Suzanne Loftus, a research fellow with the pro-diplomacy Quincy Institute, said a strong signal was sent to Russia and China as both the G-7 and the Quad groups met at Hiroshima, the site of the first atomic bomb attack.
Loftus predicts “a more confrontational direction with the West on one side, and China and Russia on the other,” as both sides compete for control of the Global South.
This was the fifth time the Quad leaders have met. Prime Minister Modi will host the next Quad summit in India in 2024.
Source: Voa News