Quad summit: Leaders pledge commitment to free, inclusive, rule-based Indo-Pacific region

During the first Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad), the four leaders – the US, Australia, India and Japan – stressed for a free, open and rule-based Indo-Pacific region that is “anchored by democratic values, and unconstrained by coercion”.

In a joint statement, the Quad leaders said: “We bring diverse perspectives and are united in a shared vision for the free and open Indo-Pacific. We strive for a region that is free, open, inclusive, healthy, anchored by democratic values, and unconstrained by coercion.”

“Today, the global devastation wrought by COVID-19, the threat of climate change, and security challenges facing the region summon us with renewed purpose,” they said.

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The quad leaders also committed to holding an in-person leaders’ summit by the end of 2021.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that Quad countries will work together closer than ever before for promoting “a secure, stable and prosperous Indo-Pacific” and Quad will now remain an important pillar of stability in the region.

“I thank President Biden for this initiative. We are united by democratic values and our commitment to a free, open, and inclusive Indo-Pacific. Our agenda today – covering areas like vaccines, climate change, and emerging technologies – makes the Quad a force for global good,” he said.

“I see this positive vision as an extension of India’s ancient philosophy of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam, which regards the world as one family. We will work together, closer than ever before for advancing our shared values and promoting a secure, stable, and prosperous Indo-Pacific. Today’s meeting shows that Quad has come of age. It will now remain an important pillar of stability in the region,” he added.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that the Indo-Pacific will shape the destiny of the world in the 21st century.
Speaking at the first-ever Quad meet, Mr. Morrison said: “…We join together as Quad leaders of nations to welcome what I believe to be a new dawn in the Indo-Pacific. History teaches us that when nations engage together in a partnership of strategic trust, common hope and shared values, much can be achieved.”

PM Morrison called for creating a different future post-COVID recovery and for the Quad to be an enabler of peace, stability, and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific
“It is the Indo-Pacific that will now shape the destiny of our world in the 21st century. As four leaders of great liberal democracies in the Indo Pacific, let our partnership be enabler more peace, stability, and prosperity and to do so inclusively with many nations of our region,” he said.

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“To share their vision, as expressed in ASEAN, for an open, inclusive, and resilient Indo-Pacific. To respect and support their sovereignty, freedom, and security, from upholding their values and supporting international law and to address the many challenges we face from COVID-19 and climate change,” he added.

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said that he felt “emotional” about the summit and committed to advance cooperation for a free and open Indo-Pacific.
“I do feel emotional about this summit… With the four countries working together, I wish to fully advance cooperation to realise a free and open Indo-Pacific and to make a visible and tangible contribution to the peace, prosperity, and stability in the region, including COVID-19,” said Suga, while speaking at the first meeting of the Quad today.

He also thanked the other three Quad countries for their support during the 2011 Japan earthquake, adding that he looked forward to fruitful conversations in the meet.
Suga will be the first foreign leader to visit the United States since President Joe Biden took office and the global coronavirus pandemic halted much international travel, according to an announcement by the White House on Friday.

US President Joe Biden said that a free and open Indo-Pacific is essential for the future of each of the grouping’s member countries, and the US is committed to ensuring the region is governed by international law and free of coercion.
“A free and open Indo Pacific is essential to each of our future of our countries. The US is committed to working with you, our partners, and all of our allies in the region to achieve stability” he said during the Quad meet.

Biden also spoke about his recently passed USD 1.9 trillion Covid-19 packages, known as the ‘American Rescue Plan’ to help Americans overcome the pandemic.
Biden announced the launch of a new vaccine manufacturing pact, in which the Quad will play an important role.

“We are launching a new vaccine manufacturing pact. We will ensure that our pact is governed by universal laws. The Quad is going to be important.”

Focusing on generating domestic demand and driving sustainable growth, the US President said: “We are establishing a new mechanism to enhance our cooperation in ways that our mutual ambitions as we have addressed, accelerating climate change. We are renewing our commitment to ensure that our regions are governed by international law, committing to universal values and free from coercion.”

“The Quad is going to be a vital ingredient for cooperation in the Indo Pacific and I look forward to working closely with all of you in the coming years,” he said in his concluding remarks.
Biden participated in the virtual meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga in the historic summit, the first leadership-level engagement for Quad.

Pledging to strengthen cooperation towards promoting a free, rules-based order, rooted in international law to advance security and prosperity and counter threats to both in the Indo-Pacific and beyond, the leaders committed to supporting rule of law, peaceful resolution of disputes, democratic values and territorial integrity.

“We reaffirm our strong support for ASEAN’s unity and centrality as well as the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific. Full of potential, the Quad looks forward to the future; it seeks to uphold peace and prosperity and strengthen democratic resilience, based on universal values,” the leaders further said.

The leaders also pledged to respond to the economic and health impacts of COVID-19, combat climate change, and address shared challenges, including in cyberspace, critical technologies, counterterrorism, quality infrastructure investment, and humanitarian-assistance and disaster-relief as well as maritime domains.

“… We will join forces to expand safe, affordable, and effective vaccine production and equitable access, to speed economic recovery and benefit global health… We will, therefore, collaborate to strengthen equitable vaccine access for the Indo-Pacific, with close coordination with multilateral organizations including the World Health Organization and COVAX. We call for transparent and results-oriented reform at the World Health Organization,” the statement said.
The four nations committed to keeping a Paris-aligned temperature limit within reach and prioritising the role of international law in the maritime domain and facilitate collaboration, including in maritime security, to meet challenges to the rules-based maritime order in the East and South China Seas.

On Myanmar, the leaders underscored the urgent need to restore democracy and the priority of strengthening democratic resilience.
They also reaffirmed commitment to the complete denuclearization of North Korea in accordance with United Nations Security Council resolutions, and also confirm the necessity of immediate resolution of the issue of Japanese abductees.

“We will combine our nations’ medical, scientific, financing, manufacturing and delivery, and development capabilities and establish a vaccine expert working group to implement our path-breaking commitment to safe and effective vaccine distribution; we will launch a critical- and emerging-technology working group to facilitate cooperation on international standards and innovative technologies of the future; and we will establish a climate working group to strengthen climate actions globally on mitigation, adaptation, resilience, technology, capacity-building, and climate finance,” further read the joint statement.

The Quad is a strategic forum comprising India, Japan, Australia and the United States of America, held its first-ever head of states meet virtually on Friday.