Climate, virus on agenda for Quad leaders

Scott Morrison will seek to find shared solutions to speeding up the global coronavirus vaccine rollout and improving regional security when he meets with the leaders of Japan, India and the United States.

The so-called Quad meeting has been held at foreign minister level since 2007 but the virtual summit early Saturday morning will be the first at leadership level.

The prime minister will be joined by US President Joe Biden, Japanese leader Yoshihide Suga and India’s Narendra Modi.

“Our security, our peace and stability that all Australians rely on for their freedom depends on the peace and stability of our region,” Mr Morrison said ahead of the meeting.

“What the Quad is about is ensuring an open, independent, sovereign Indo-Pacific that enables all countries and nations within the Indo-Pacific to engage with each other.”

The US is looking to strengthen ties with key allies as China takes an increasingly assertive diplomatic and security approach in the Indo-Pacific region.

India has urged the other Quadrilateral Security Dialogue members to invest in its vaccine production capacity, in an attempt to counter China’s widening vaccine diplomacy.

A new financing agreement for India’s vaccine program is expected to be on the agenda.

The White House says the “climate crisis” will also be a key part of the talks, expected to go for about two hours.

Mr Biden is returning the US to the Paris agreement following Donald Trump pulling the nation out of the climate pact, and is  pledging more ambition in cutting emissions.

India’s Foreign Ministry said the summit would cover supply chains, emerging and critical technologies, maritime security and climate change.

Japan is understood to be pressing for greater cooperation on securing rare earth metals crucial to the production of electric car motors and other products.

The Biden administration has embarked on a review of the US approach towards China, in the wake of Mr Trump plunging the diplomatic relationship into crisis.

It also comes as Chinese leaders meet in Beijing for the National People’s Congress, at which President Xi Jinping said the People’s Liberation Army must be prepared to respond to “complex and difficult” situations.

“The current security situation of our country is largely unstable and uncertain,” President Xi said.

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