President Joe Biden will host the leaders of Australia, India and Japan at the White House next week, the White House said, for discussions that will include countering China’s expanding influence in the Asia-Pacific region.
The meetings will be the first in-person summit for a group known as the “Quad,” as Biden seeks to make the region a top priority in US foreign policy.
Biden’s meeting with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga on September 24 will demonstrate the Biden administration’s “priority of engaging in the Indo-Pacific, including through new multilateral configurations to meet the challenges of the 21st century,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement.
Psaki said the leaders will focus on issues including Covid-19, climate change, emerging technologies and “promoting a free and open Indo-Pacific.”
The group has generally sought to play down its focus on China. After the four leaders met virtually in March, US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said that while they discussed challenges presented by Beijing, the meeting “was not fundamentally about China.”
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said at a regular press briefing in Beijing that “any regional cooperation framework should go with the trend of the times and be conducive to mutual trust and cooperation between regional countries. It should not target any third party or harm their interests.”
“China’s growth is an increase in forces for peace in the world and good news for the region,” he added.
Suga is making arrangements to attend the Quad meeting in person, Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi told a news briefing in Tokyo on Tuesday. Motegi added that although Suga was soon to step down as premier, Japan’s direction under a new leader would not change, and the country would remain committed to its alliance with the US.