WASHINGTON: The US and Japan together will strengthen their efforts to promote peace, prosperity and security in the Indo-Pacific, US Vice President Kamala Harris has said. Her remarks came after she met with visiting Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga on Friday.
"I had a good discussion today with Japanese Prime Minister (Yoshihide) Suga - the first world leader to visit us here in Washington. Together, the US and Japan will strengthen our efforts to promote peace, prosperity, and security in the Indo-Pacific," Harris said.
Suga is the first foreign leader to visit the White House in person under the Biden administration, which officials said indicated the importance the US gives to its relationship with Japan. Harris welcomed the Prime Minister of Japan and said this is the first visit to the United States of a world leader since President Joe Biden and she assumed office in January.
"As you know, Mr Prime Minister, you and I met just about a month ago during the Quad summit which was a meeting with the United States with our allies Japan, with Australia and with India where we had extensive conversations about the collaborations and the friendship around some of the biggest challenges facing our world," Harris said.
On March 12, leaders of the four Quad countries -- Prime Minister Narendra Modi, his Australian counterpart Scott Morrison, US President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Suga -- held their first virtual summit under the framework of the Quadrilateral coalition with the growing global concerns over China's increasing assertiveness in the strategic Indo-Pacific region in its immediate backdrop.
In a firm message to China, Biden told leaders of the Quad coalition that a "free and open" Indo-Pacific is essential to their countries and vowed that the US was committed to working with its partners and allies in the region to achieve stability amidst Beijing's coercive actions.
In a joint statement released after the meeting, the leaders reaffirmed their commitment to quadrilateral cooperation between their countries. "I also look forward to our conversations about our mutual commitment to the Indo-Pacific and the work that our nations will do together to continue with peace and prosperity in that region of the world," Harris said.
Speaking through a translator, Suga expressed his sincere gratitude for inviting him as the first foreign guest in Washington despite the COVID-19 pandemic since the inauguration of the Biden administration. "I'm also very delighted to have the opportunity to meet with you vice-president Harris face to face today and have wonderful conversations. I am very much looking forward to it," he said.
"Japan highly praises and appreciates that the Biden- Harris administration puts high importance on cooperating with its allies and partners. There is no other time than today that the Japan-US alliance needs to be strong. This is an alliance that is connected by universal values, such as freedom, democracy and the rule of law," Suga said.