The leaders of Quad countries – Australia, India, Japan and the US – would announce a new working group on space, a supply chain initiative and a 5G deployment and diversification effort, during their historic meeting on Friday.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is in the US for the first in-person Quad summit at the White House, along with his counterparts Scott Morrison from Australia and Yoshihide Suga from Japan.
The Quad leaders are also planning to roll out vaccine deliverables and announce a series of measures in the field of healthcare and infrastructure sector, officials were quoted as saying in a report by PTI.
The leaders will also talk on critical issues such as the Indo-Pacific, climate change and COVID, and how to advance infrastructure.
“You will see that the leaders are determined to pool our unique capabilities, our resources and our expertise to meet common challenges,” a senior administration official said, emphasising that “the Quad is an unofficial gathering”.
“Although we have a number of working groups, and we are deepening cooperation on a daily basis, it is also the case that it is not a regional security organisation. We are going to address particular issues associated with the challenges confronting the Indo-Pacific in the current environment,” the official said.
China’s increasing military presence in the Indo-Pacific is bothering many nations, including India and the US. China claims nearly all of the disputed South China Sea and has built artificial islands and military installations on it.
“US President Joe Biden believes that too often these kinds of discussions are scripted and he really wants to be able to sit down and have a deeper conversation with all leaders in an environment where they can really share perspectives on what’s important to each of them as they go forward,” the official reportedly said, adding that “this quad is part of a larger fabric of engagement that you will see”.
In November 2017, India, Japan, the US and Australia gave shape to the long-pending proposal of setting up the Quad to develop a new strategy to keep the critical sea routes in the Indo-Pacific free of any influence.
According to the administration official, the Quad will be a key format and forum for discussion and joint purpose “as we head into a challenging period ahead”.
The Quad leaders further plan to announce a supply chain initiative, with the goal being to ensure that partners take steps to support a diverse and competitive market that produces secure critical technologies that are essential for digital economies globally. “We’re also going to announce a 5G deployment and diversification effort,” the senior administration official said.
Also in the works is a STEM – science, technology, engineering and mathematics – scholarship programme. The Quad fellowship, sponsored by private donors, will bring 100 students per year (25 from each quad country) to pursue either a Master’s or doctoral degree at a leading STEM graduate university in the US.
“That’s a big deal for us and that’s a signature initiative designed to indicate that we want and encourage Quad countries to send their best students to work with us and to build those lines of communication, coordination with young people,” the official said, adding that the Quad leaders would be announcing new working groups on space.
Other efforts include steps to help monitor climate change and a robust cybersecurity plan.
(With inputs from Agencies)