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US, Japan pledge to build a free Indo-Pacific

US prez and Japanese PM said they will continue to work with Australia and India through the Quad, which ‘has never been stronger’
By Yashwant Raj
UPDATED ON APR 18, 2021 04:10 AM IST
US President Joe Biden (left) and Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga (second right) take part in an expanded meeting in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, DC. (AFP)

The United States and Japan on Friday pledged to build a “free, open, accessible, diverse, and thriving Indo-Pacific” working along with allies and partners such as India and Australia of the four-nation Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad), which they said, “has never been stronger”.

US President Joe Biden and Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga did not announce the first in-person summit of the fledgling grouping more popularly called the Quad, contrary to its likelihood raised in an official preview of their meeting.

But, it was certainly not for the lack of seriousness about the grouping. “Together, we will continue to work with allies and partners, including with Australia and India through the Quad, which has never been stronger, to build the free, open, accessible, diverse, and thriving Indo-Pacific we all seek,” they said in a joint statement.

The leaders personally pledged commitment to the Quad several times in their remarks at the joint briefing. “Earlier this year, we - together with India and Australia - launched the landmark Quad Vaccine Partnership to expand the manufacturing of Covid-19 vaccines and assist countries throughout the region with vaccination efforts,” Biden said in his opening remarks at the joint news conference.

India will manufacture 1 billion does of Covid-19 vaccines by the end of 2022 under this initiative which is being funded by the US and Japan. Australia will pay for its distribution. In his opening remarks, Suga underlined the importance of Quad in a free and open Indo-Pacific by cooperating with “other countries and regions, including the Asean, (and fellow Quad members) Australia, and India”.

China hit back at the show of alliance during talks between Biden and Suga.

“It cannot be more ironic that such attempt of stoking division and building blocs against other countries is put under the banner of ‘free and open’,” the spokesperson for the Chinese Embassy in Washington said on Saturday.

With inputs from Associated Press

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