“The Quad has come of age,” Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared on Friday at the start of the summit of the leaders of the four nations to take the group to a next level of enhanced cooperation.
“We will work together closer than ever before for advancing our shared values and promoting our secure, stable and prosperous Indo-Pacific,” he said. “Today’s summit shows that Quad has come of age. It will now remain an important pillar of stability in the region.”
He said that the Quad working together as a “force for the global good” is an extension of the Indian creed of ‘Vasudaiva Kutumbakam’ or that the world is one family.
“We are united by our democratic values and our commitment to a free and open and inclusive Indo-Pacific,” he said in a reference to the regional threat from China.
Modi is participating in the summit along with Prime Ministers Scott Morrison of Australia and Yoshihide Suga of Japan, and US President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris.
“The Quad is going to be a vital arena for cooperation,” said Biden, who was presiding from the White House over the meeting held virtually with the other leaders appearing on video screens.
Of the new impetus for the Quad’s cooperation, he said: “We’re establishing a new mechanism to enhance our cooperation to raise our mutual interests.”
Biden announced the formation of a new joint partnership that is going to boost Covid-19 vaccine production for global benefit and will help the entire Pacific too.
“This is a group is particularly important because it’s dedicated to the practical solutions, and concrete results,” he said.
He added: “We’re renewing our commitment to ensure that our region is governed by international law, committed to upholding universal values and free from coercion.”
Biden was flanked by Harris and Secretary of State Antony Blinken. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan and Sumona Guha, the National Security Council’s senior director for South Asia, were also participating.
A free and open Indo-Pacific is essential, Biden said. “The United States is committed to working with you, our partners, and all of our allies in the region to achieve stability. This is a group particularly important because it is dedicated to the practical solutions and concrete results.”
As Biden said in his opening remarks this was the first multilateral summit he is participating in, showing the urgency with which he views the situation in the Indo-Pacific where an aggressive China is emerging as a challenge to both the soft and hard power of the US and its partners.
The push is now for the Quad to become a new model of multilateral cooperation that melds security interests with development.
It plans to start by harnessing India’s vaccine development and manufacturing capacity to project the new outlook.
(Arul Louis can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter at @arulouis)