WASHINGTON: President Joe Biden planned a virtual summit this month with the leaders of Quad members - Australia, Japan, India in order to counter China's growing influence in the Indo-Pacific region, citing people familiar with the matter, reported news website Axios.
By putting a Quad meeting on the president's schedule, the White House is signaling the importance of partnerships and alliances in the Indo-Pacific region.
Biden has spoken to each leader individually, but putting them together gives an early boost to the burgeoning group, which some have suggested could grow into an Asian version of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), Axios reported.
Earlier in February, Biden had spoken to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in which the White House said the leaders would work toward "a stronger regional architecture through the Quad."
Last month, Secretary of State Antony Blinken joined a virtual summit of Quad foreign ministers.
They offered a veiled criticism of China by pledging "to strongly oppose unilateral and forceful attempts to change the status quo in the context of the East and the South China Sea."
Meanwhile, the White House declined to confirm the upcoming meeting.
The Quad, a security dialogue among four of the region's biggest democracies, was first established in 2007. It quickly lost its lustre, in part because Australia and India were reluctant to take any action that might antagonize China.
The Trump administration embraced the Quad concept, as the four countries grew more comfortable coordinating their security postures and more concerned about China's rise.
One month before the 2020 election, then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo flew to a summit in South Korea to rail against China's "exploitation, corruption and coercion," reported Axios.
Earlier, President Obama implemented the "Pivot to Asia," complementing the United States' traditional focus on European alliances with new ones in the Pacific region.
President Trump abandoned his predecessor's Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal but embraced the Quad.
Confirming the same, Australia PM Scott Morrison said "This is one of the first things President Biden and I discussed when we spoke some weeks ago. And I spoke to Vice-President Kamala Harris just this past week."
Morrison further said "The Quad is very central to the US 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. So, yes, the Quad is very central, I think, to our ongoing arrangements."
"The President and indeed, the Secretary of State, have made clear that their re-engagement in multilateral organisations, particularly in the Indo-Pacific, is key to building stability and peace in the Indo-Pacific. We share that view. We encourage that view. And we strongly welcome that view. And so I am looking forward to that first gathering of the Quad leaders. It will be the first-ever such gathering," added Morrison.
Government sources here told ANI that there is no formal decision yet on the final dates of the quad summit, foreign ministers of quad met virtually last month.
Australian Prime Minister further said " I have already had bilateral discussions about this with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Yoshihide Suga, the Prime Minister of Japan. And of course, we are looking forward to those discussions and follow-up face-to-face meetings as well."
"This will become a feature of Indo-Pacific engagement. But it's not going to be a big bureaucracy with a big secretariat and those sorts of things. It will be four leaders, four countries, working together constructively for the peace, prosperity and stability of the Indo-Pacific, which is good for everyone in the Indo-Pacific. It's particularly good for our ASEAN friends, and those throughout the South-West Pacific, to ensure that they can continue with their own sovereignty and their own certainty for their own futures." Morrison added.