New Delhi: In the biggest upgrade of the format, the first ever summit of leaders of the four countries in the ‘Quadrilateral framework’ will be held on March 12, the Ministry of External Affairs announced on Tuesday.
The MEA press release said that the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be participating “along with Prime Minister of Australia Scott Morrison and Prime Minister of Japan Yoshihide Suga and President of U.S.A. Joseph R. Biden, in the first Leaders’ Summit of the Quadrilateral Framework, being held virtually on 12th March 2021”.
According to the readout, the leaders will “discuss ongoing efforts to combat Covid-19 pandemic and explore opportunities for collaboration in ensuring safe, equitable and affordable vaccines in the Indo-Pacific region”.
The Financial Times had reported on March 3 that the Quad countries were developing a plan for distribution of COVID-19 vaccines in Asia “as part of a broader strategy to counter China’s influence”.
The other topics that could be discussed at the meeting will be resilient supply chains, emerging and critical technologies, maritime security, and climate change.
“The Leaders will discuss regional and global issues of shared interest, and exchange views on practical areas of cooperation towards maintaining a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific region,” said the MEA press note.
The ‘Quad’ is made up of four countries who had helped to coordinate disaster relief during the 2004 Tsunami. After some rounds of meeting between senior officials, the Quad format went into dormancy, with some members pulling out after China expressed annoyance.
The meetings resumed on the sidelines of the East Asia summit in 2017. The first meeting of foreign ministers were held in 2019 on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York. Since, then, two other ministerial meetings of the Quad countries have been held so far, with the last one virtually, in February this year..