New Delhi, Mar 12 (PTI) The Quad has come of age and its agenda covering areas like vaccines, climate change and emerging technologies makes it a force for global good, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said at the first summit of the four-nation coalition.
In his opening remarks at the virtual summit, Modi, in presence of US President Joe Biden, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, also talked about shared values and promoting a secure, stable and prosperous Indo-Pacific.
'We are united by our democratic values, and our commitment to a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific. Our agenda today - covering areas like vaccines, climate change and emerging technologies - makes the Quad a force for global good,' he said.
The virtual summit was attended by Biden, Morrison and Suga.
'I see this positive vision as an extension of India's ancient philosophy of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam, which regards the world as one family,' Modi said.
'We will work together, closer than ever before, for advancing our shared values and promoting a secure, stable and prosperous Indo-Pacific,' he said.
The prime minister said the holding of the summit meeting shows that Quad has come of age and it will now remain an important pillar of stability in the region.
In his remarks, Biden said there was a need to focus on generating domestic demand and driving sustainable global growth.
He also talked about having an ambitious new joint partnership that is going to boost vaccine manufacturing and strengthen vaccinations to benefit the entire Indo-Pacific region.
'We are establishing a new mechanism to enhance our cooperation and raise our mutual ambition as we address accelerating climate change,' he said.
The US president also mentioned the commitment to ensure that the region is governed by international law and it is free from coercion.
'I am optimistic about our prospects,' said Biden.
The most significant among the deliverables envisaged in the summit is a coronavirus vaccine initiative that will allow new manufacturing capacity to be added in India for exports to the Indo-Pacific region, sources said.
In his remarks, Modi also thanked President Biden for taking the initiative to organise the summit.
The genesis of the Quad lies in 2004 when the four countries formed a 'core group' for a joint response to the Indian Ocean tsunami to undertake rescue and relief operations.
In many senses, that pioneering effort still determines the core identity of Quad, and the instinct for collective welfare and security for the people of the Indo-Pacific.
The salience of the Quad has run in parallel with the emergence of the Indo-Pacific as a key strategic region. With a growing similarity of assessments about geopolitical dynamics in the region, in 2017, the Quad dialogue resumed at the official level.
In November 2017, the four countries 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.
The four Quad member countries have been resolving to uphold a rules-based international order in the Indo-Pacific amid growing Chinese assertiveness in the region.
India's approach to the Indo-Pacific was enunciated by Modi in his address at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore in 2018.
Inclusiveness, openness and ASEAN centrality and unity lie at the heart of India's Indo-Pacific vision. The 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is a key stakeholder in the Indo-Pacific region.
The strategic significance of the Indo-Pacific was also acknowledged by the US in 2018 when it renamed the US Pacific Command (PACOM) as INDO-PACOM. Several European countries too have published their Indo-Pacific strategies, in recognition of the political and economic weight of the region.
The first foreign ministerial meeting of Quad countries was held in New York on September 26, 2019 on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.
External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar participated in the second Quad foreign ministerial meeting in Tokyo on October 6.
The third Quad foreign ministerial meeting took place virtually on February 18. The meeting took place within a month of the Biden administration assuming office.
Earlier this year, for the first time the four countries appointed Sherpas to coordinate Quad-related issues. Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla is India's Sherpa.
The Biden administration recognised the significance of the Indo-Pacific region in its Interim National Security Strategic Guidance document.
To this effect, an Indo-Pacific Coordinator has been appointed in the US National Security Council to coordinate their Indo-Pacific strategy. PTI MPB ZMN