Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Friday said that will be joining him, as well as the leaders of Japan and India, in a first-ever “Quad” bloc virtual summit.
Morrison told reporters in Sydney about the plans, saying that the pact between the countries “will become a feature of Indo-Pacific engagement,” according to Bloomberg.
“It will be four leaders, four countries, working together constructively for the peace, prosperity and stability of the Indo-Pacific,” Morrison said, though he did not provide any additional details on when the meeting will be held.
The Quad, a security dialogue between the four nations first established in 2007, has increasingly gained support in recent years as a method to counter China’s growing influence in the Indo-Pacific region.
Bloomberg reported that Morrison added Friday, “the Quad is very central to the United States and our thinking about the region, and looking at the Indo-Pacific also through the prism of our Asean partners and their vision of the Indo-Pacific,” referencing the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
Axios first reported the summit plans late Thursday, citing people familiar with the matter.
While Biden has spoken with the leader of each of the Quad nations individually, a group summit would signal a further strengthening of the dialogue, which some have said could develop into an Asian version of NATO.
The White House declined to confirm the upcoming meeting between Biden and the other Quad leaders when asked by Axios.
The Hill has reached out to the White House for comment.
Secretary of State last month participated in a virtual summit with foreign ministers of the other Quad nations, in which they pledged “to strongly oppose unilateral and forceful attempts to change the status quo in the context of the East and South China Sea,” according to Axios.
Blinken in his first major foreign policy speech on Wednesday labeled U.S. relations with China as the biggest geopolitical challenge of the 21st century.
The secretary of State committed the U.S. to a relationship with China that would be “competitive when it should be, collaborative when it can be, adversarial when it must be.”
The White House’s interim national security guidance released later that day signaled a change from former ’s “America first,” foreign policy strategy, though Biden specifically called out China and Russia as main threats, writing that both have “invested heavily in efforts meant to check U.S. strengths and prevent us from defending our interests and allies around the world.”
Blinken on Thursday spoke with counterparts in the three other Quad nations to discuss efforts to provide coronavirus vaccines to Asian nations. The vaccine distribution plans aim to battle both COVID-19 and a Chinese push to extend its global influence through vaccine diplomacy.
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