President Joe Biden declared the United States is “committed to a free, open, secure and prosperous Indo-Pacific region” in a rare op-ed penned with the leaders of India, Australia and Japan.
“Over the course of these past months, each of us has grieved the suffering that our people and the world have endured. But in this dark hour, our partnership offers a spark of hope to light the path ahead,” the leaders wrote in a Washington Post op-ed published Saturday.
The alliance said it is trying to “ensure that the Indo-Pacific is accessible and dynamic, governed by international law and bedrock principles such as freedom of navigation and peaceful resolution of disputes, and that all countries are able to make their own political choices, free from coercion.”
Biden, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga of Japan, Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India and Prime Minister Scott Morrison of Australia make up a group informally known as the “Quad.” While not a formal military alliance like NATO, the Quad, or Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, is seen by some as a potential counterweight to growing Chinese influence and alleged aggression in the Asia-Pacific region. The collation has been denounced by Beijing as an anti-China bloc.
Biden had met with the heads of state for the first time in a virtual summit on Friday, marking his first multilateral leader-level summit as President.
There, Biden said the agenda covered vaccines, climate and technology among other issues. The US President announced an “ambitious new joint partnership” to boost Covid-19 vaccine manufacturing to benefit the Indo-Pacific region.
Biden’s national security adviser Jake Sullivan later said the four leaders committed to delivering up to 1 billion doses of Covid-19 vaccines to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, the Indo-Pacific by the end of 2022.
“Our vaccine initiative will be guided by a Quad Vaccine Experts Working Group that brings together the sharpest scientific leaders from Australia, India, Japan and the United States to meet the region’s pressing need,” the op-ed read. “The promises we make today must translate into a healthier and more prosperous Indo-Pacific tomorrow.”
The White House said the group will coordinate with the World Health Organization and the COVAX initiative for equitable global access to Covid-19 vaccines.
In the op-ed, the leaders called climate change an “urgent global challenge,” doubling down on the participation in the Paris Climate Accord, the Biden rejoined once in office, after former President Donald Trump withdrew the country from it during his tenure.
“It is clear that climate change is both a strategic priority and an urgent global challenge, including for the Indo-Pacific region. That’s why we will work together and with others to strengthen the Paris agreement, and enhance the climate actions of all nations,” the op-ed read.
CNN previously reported that Suga will be the first foreign leader to visit the United States, according to a senior administration official.
And Sullivan says that the group will meet in person before the end of this year to deliver results of their efforts, after launching a set of working groups, including one focused on emerging technologies and another on cyber.
CNN’s Kate Sullivan, Aaron Pellish, Brad Lendon and Selina Wang contributed to this report.