Washington: The White House on Wednesday claimed of elevating the Quad, which is comprised of India, the US, Australia and Japan, to a first summit-level meeting, an American initiative as it has been convened by President Joe Biden.
Newly elected US president Biden, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga will reportedly meet virtually on Friday for the first meeting of the Quad leaders, marking a major milestone in the evolution of a loose group of nations bonded by a shared goal of containing China.
Since its establishment in the aftermath of the 2004 tsunami, the group had met only at the level of officials and ministers.
The White House press secretary, Jen Psaki, confirmed reports of the Quad summit being a US initiative while announcing a meeting next week between secretary of state Antony Blinken and National Security Adviser Jack Sullivan with their Chinese counterparts.
This meeting “will follow the president’s convening of the Quad at the leader level, as well as his participation in the G7 leaders’ meeting just a few weeks ago”, Psaki said, maintaining that the Biden administration will not participate in the group but will shape its course.
The Trump administration, which oversaw the revival of the Quad, had no plans of rising it to the level of leaders despite nursing ambitions of turning it into an Indo-Pacific Nato.
“Regarding a Quad summit, no, there are no plans for that in the immediate short term,” a senior Trump administration official had told reporters last October in the dying days of Donald Trump’s tenure but ahead of the third edition of the 2+2 dialogue for which then secretary of state Mike Pompeo and then defence secretary Mark Esper were to fly down to New Delhi shortly. “But anything could happen in the future,” the official had said.
Furthermore, speculation had been under way at the time about giving the dialogue a more formal and institutional structure, something like Nato. “I will say that it is our view that in the passage of time, the Quad should become more regularised, and at some point, formalised as well as we really begin to understand what the parameters of this cooperation are and how we can regularise it,” the then deputy secretary of state, Stephen Biegun, had said in October 2020 while leaving for his country from India.