TOKYO—With all eyes on an increasingly assertive China, “Quad” leaders from the Indo-Pacific nations of the United States, Japan, India, and Australia met on Tuesday morning in Tokyo, Japan, to discuss mutual cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region.
The four Indo-Pacific leaders vowed to stand together for a free and open region at the summit, and to work towards peace, prosperity, and stability in the region, while coordinating responses to challenges like energy, health, and cyber security, while addressing U.N. climate change predictions.
“This is what this is about, democracy vs. autocracy—we have to make sure democracy is delivered,” U.S. President Joe Biden said.
In the talks, Biden will look to “build on the commonalities” that he shares with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi despite differences on issues including Russia, according to an official. Meanwhile, Modi is also set to meet Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida for talks and a working dinner.
Modi, in his remarks at the leaders’ summit, said that India would work toward the Quad’s shared vision of a free, open, and inclusive Indo-Pacific region.
“With this, the image of Quad as a ‘Force for Good’ will be strengthened even more,” he said.
Kishida, meanwhile, linked Russia’s invasion of Ukraine to unilateral aggression on display from China in the Indo-Pacific, although he did not list China by name.
“Since we last met in person in September, an incident that overturns the rules-based international order has happened: the Russian invasion of Ukraine,” the Japanese leader said. “It is a blatant challenge to the conditions set in the United Nations charter. We must not allow the same thing to happen in the Indo-Pacific.”
On the Ukraine war, Biden said it is currently a “dark hour in our shared history,” after which he said Russia’s aggression was more than just a European issue. “It’s a global issue,” he said. “As long as Russia continues the war, the United States will work with our partners to help lead a global response because it’s going to affect all parts of the world.”
“The new Australian government’s priorities align with the Quad agenda, taking action on climate change, and building a stronger and more resilient Indo-Pacific region through better economic security, better cyber security, better energy security and better environmental-and-health security,” Albanese said.
Taiwan was not an official item on the Quad agenda, a U.S. official said, but it was expected to be a key topic when the four leaders meet a day after Biden broke with convention and committed U.S. military support for the self-governed island claimed by China’s ruling Communist Party, which is still at war with Taiwan.
India is the only Quad member to have abstained on a U.N. Security Council vote to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, although it did raise concerns about the killing of civilians. India has a long-standing relationship with Moscow, which remains a major supplier of its defense equipment and some oil supplies.
But U.S. officials at the Quad will emphasize shared views on China, which the Indo-Pacific nations view as a bigger long-term challenge than Russia.
“The president is very aware that countries have their own histories, they have their own interests, they have their own outlooks, and the idea is to build on commonalities,” said a U.S. official.
India has developed close ties with Washington in recent years and is a vital part of the Quad grouping aimed at pushing back against Beijing.
The United States is considering “investment support” of $4 billion for India on top of billions of dollars extended earlier, New Delhi said on Monday, after the two sides signed an agreement for COVID-19 vaccine manufacturing, health care, renewable energy, financial inclusion, and infrastructure.