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Biden to meet virtually Friday with leaders of Japan, India, Australia

World49 minutes ago (Mar 09, 2021 02:30PM ET)

(C) Reuters. President Biden holds an event on International Women’s Day at the White House in Washington

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Joe Biden will participate in an online meeting on Friday with the leaders of Japan, India and Australia, the White House announced on Tuesday, the first leader-level meeting of a group seen as part of efforts to balance China’s growing military and economic power.

White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the meeting of the “quad” countries indicates the importance Biden places in U.S. allies and partners in the Indo-Pacific region.

She said she expected a range of issues facing the global community to be discussed “from the threat of COVID, to economic cooperation and, of course, to the climate crisis”

India’s Foreign Ministry said the leaders would address “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.”

It said the summit would also cover supply chains, emerging and critical technologies, maritime security, and climate change.

The United States is looking to strengthen ties with key allies as China takes an increasingly assertive foreign policy approach in the Indo-Pacific region and elsewhere in the world.

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

The Indian statement said Quad leaders would discuss ongoing efforts to combat the pandemic and explore “opportunities for collaboration in ensuring safe, equitable and affordable vaccines in the Indo-Pacific region.”

Friday’s meeting will take place days before U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin plan to visit Japan and South Korea later this month.

The visit by Blinken and Austin will be the first to the Asian allies by the top U.S. foreign policy and defense officials since the Biden administration took office in January.

Biden to meet virtually Friday with leaders of Japan, India, Australia

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