Biden to host Quad leaders in sign of refocused Asia policy
US President Biden will host the leaders of Australia, India and Japan at the White House on Friday for the first in-person meeting of the “Quad” alliance as the White House doubles down on its foreign policy efforts to compete with China in the Indo-Pacific.
Biden will hold separate one-on-one meetings with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, who announced earlier this month he will step down from the role. Biden met with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on the sidelines of the United Nations on Tuesday.
“At the outset of the admin the president indicated he wanted to take this institution that’s an informal gathering of leading democracies in the Indo-Pacific and basically lift it both to the leader level, and ensure we are working together to build better lines of communication and strengthening cooperation and habits of cooperation amongst us,” a senior administration official told reporters on a call previewing Friday’s summit.
The official described the Quad as part of a “larger fabric of engagement” that reflects the Biden administration’s foreign policy in the region. Biden has spoken frequently about the need for democracies to band together as autocracies in China and elsewhere seek greater influence.
The leaders will discuss climate change, the coronavirus pandemic and supply chain and cybersecurity initiatives. The group previously discussed efforts to ramp up vaccine production in India, though an official would not confirm what specific announcement the leaders would make on the pandemic on Friday.
Beyond vaccine production, the group will announce a supply chain initiative focused on semiconductors amid a global shortage of the key part for cars and other products. They will also detail a 5G diversification effort, as well as a fellowship sponsored by private donors that will send 100 masters or doctoral students — 25 from each country — to leading U.S. universities to study science and technology programs.
Biden will hold bilateral meetings with Modi and Suga after the larger Quad meeting on Friday. Suga previously visited the White House in April, and he announced earlier this month he would not seek reelection as prime minister.
A senior administration official indicated Biden wanted to have a bilateral meeting with Suga so he could thank him for his service. First lady Jill Biden, who led the White House delegation at the Summer Olympics in Tokyo in July, is also returning from a trip to Michigan on Friday so she can speak with Suga in person before he steps down.
“The president is a deeply human, sentimental person, and I think it’s important to him to say to Prime Minister Suga directly how important that engagement with him has been,” the official said.