The informal Quad grouping of four democratic countries of Australia, India, Japan and the US is there to make the region stronger, more prosperous, and more stable, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said.
Terming it a “positive” initiative, Morrison said it was designed to lift the well-being of the people of the strategically-vital Indo-Pacific region.
“The Quad is a partner. The Quad is a partner whether it be for China or any other country that is in the Indo Pacific region. We’re there to make the region stronger, more prosperous, more stable. It’s a positive initiative designed to lift the wellbeing of the people of the Indo-Pacific,” Morrison told reporters at the White House after the conclusion of the first-ever in-person Quad Summit here on Friday.
Hosted by US President Joe Biden, the Quad summit was attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Japanese and Australian counterparts Yoshihide Suga and Morrison.
Thanking Biden for bringing leaders together, the Australian prime minister said he had the opportunity to speak with Prime Minister Modi and Prime Minister Suga.
He thanked Suga for “being a tremendous leader of his country”.
He said Suga joked with him about the Olympics, saying “Japan won a lot of gold judo medals during the Olympics but Australia didn’t do too bad either”.
On Covid-19, Morrison said it was not just about getting the vaccines, but about getting them in arms.
“And the programs we’re running together are helping those vaccines that have been distributed, being administered — the training, the planning, the support that’s needed —to get particularly in developing countries, these vaccines in arms,” he said.
“Our discussions around security began with Afghanistan, and particularly focusing on how we can continue to help people who wish to leave Afghanistan, and become part of our humanitarian programmes and holding the Taliban to account to ensure that they can leave safely and ensuring that we keep the pressure on the Taliban in Afghanistan, to live up to the commitments that they’ve made,” Morrison said.
More broadly, when it comes to climate, there was a real sense of resolve, and not just about the ‘if’ question, said the Australian prime minister.
“Of course, is the answer to that question, but the how and how we can support the particularly developing countries within the Indo-Pacific to get access to the clean energy technology that enables them to transition their economies, just like Australia is seeking to transition our economy,” he said.
“An important initiative for a clean energy supply chain summit to be held next year in Australia to put together a roadmap over the next 12 months that could see how we can combine the best scientific knowledge, industry knowledge and academics coming together to ensure we can transfer our energy technology, clean energy technology, supply chains that support it to transform the economies of our region,” Morrison said.
Earlier, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, told reporters that Quad was not a security meeting or security apparatus.
“The focus of this group is on Covid, climate, emerging technology, and infrastructure. All areas where it’s incredibly important to coordinate with key partners who are in the global community, including in that region,” she said.
Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad) is the informal strategic dialogue between India, USA, Japan and Australia with a shared objective to ensure and support a “free, open and prosperous” Indo-Pacific region.
In November 2017, India, the US, Australia and Japan gave shape to the long-pending “Quad” Coalition to develop a new strategy to keep the critical sea routes in the Indo-Pacific free of any influence (especially China).