Quad leaders meet in Tokyo

By Jessie Yeung and Steve George, CNN

Updated 1013 GMT (1813 HKT) May 24, 2022
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12:07 a.m. ET, May 24, 2022

Biden says "strategic ambiguity" toward Taiwan hasn't changed

The four leaders' announcement of the Quad Fellowship, a new scholarship program offered to students of the member nations, was waylaid somewhat when reporters in the room posed a different question: What did Biden mean about Taiwan?

US President Joe Biden sent shockwaves through the region yesterday, when he said the United States would intervene militarily if China attacked the self-governing democratic island —  appearing to shift from the deliberate ambiguity traditionally held by Washington.

The White House later walked back his comments, and said the US' official position remained unchanged.

After Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida finished speaking about the Quad Fellowship, there was a stretch of quiet as the four leaders posed for photos — before CNN's Jeremy Diamond asked, "Mr. President, is the policy of strategic ambiguity towards Taiwan dead?"
After a beat, Biden responded: "No."
"Could you explain?" Diamond prodded.
"No," Biden repeated.

Another reporter asked if Biden would send troops to Taiwan in the event of an attack — to which the President responded, "The policy has not changed at all and I stated that when I made my statement."

Diamond can be heard pushing Biden to explain what he meant by intervening militarily —  but an event moderator then declared the event over, with the four leaders leaving shortly after.

12:05 a.m. ET, May 24, 2022

Leaders announce new Quad Fellowship for 100 students from four member nations

US President Joe Biden, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese listen to Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida announce the Quad Fellowship, during the Quad Leaders Summit in Tokyo, on Tuesday.
US President Joe Biden, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese listen to Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida announce the Quad Fellowship, during the Quad Leaders Summit in Tokyo, on Tuesday. (Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)

The four leaders have emerged from their closed-door meeting, and just announced a new initiative to reporters: The Quad Fellowship.

The fellowship will sponsor 100 American, Japanese, Indian and Australian students to study a graduate degree in STEM fields in the US, with applications now open until June 30 this year.

"(I wish) this fellowship will become a bridge that connects our four nations, and that empowers us to lead and to grow so that we can resolve any challenges in the Indo-Pacific and around the world," said Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.

The four leaders posed for photos and shook hands before leaving the media area.

11:42 p.m. ET, May 23, 2022

Quad to unveil new initiatives include scholarships and sharing of space data

The Quad is unveiling a number of new initiatives at today's summit in Tokyo, including an educational program and cooperation in outer space. Here are the main announcements to note:

  • The Quad Fellowship: This new program will sponsor 100 students from the four countries to study graduate STEM degrees in the United States. Applications for the fellowship and its scholarships are now open, and will close on June 30 this year. The first class of fellows will begin their studies in autumn 2023.
  • The Indo-Pacific Partnership for Maritime Domain Awareness (IPMDA): This major maritime initiative focuses on providing the four countries — and their regional partners — with a faster and clearer picture of what's happening in their waters.
  • The vaccine partnership: The Quad has collectively provided 257 million Covid-19 vaccine doses to the Indo-Pacific, according to a White House statement. The bloc will continue to provide doses to the region, and support a $100 million facility to boost the Indian health care sector.
  • Space cooperation: The four nations are also committing to sharing space-based Earth observation data, which include US programs on oceanic and atmospheric monitoring, flood mapping, and land imaging.

Other announcements include stronger efforts to address climate change and critical emerging technologies, strengthen regional supply chains, build the four nations' cybersecurity capabilities, and launch an infrastructure coordination group.

12:00 a.m. ET, May 24, 2022

The Quad leaders are now meeting behind closed doors

From CNN's Kevin Liptak

U.S. President Joe Biden, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese attend the Qua summit in Tokyo on May 24.
U.S. President Joe Biden, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese attend the Qua summit in Tokyo on May 24. (Kyodo/AP)

After concluding this morning's opening remarks, the four Quad leaders are now holding a closed-door meeting at Kantei Palace, the summit venue in Tokyo.

A senior US official said the collective will announce new initiatives as part of their meeting, including on maritime awareness and Covid-19 vaccines.

And US President Joe Biden will likely speak to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi about how to strengthen bilateral ties — perhaps hoping to wean New Delhi off its reliance on Russian arms. India is the only Quad nation that has not condemned Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

If today's summit is like past meetings, the leaders will have "very direct very candid conversations," the official. "I think that we've all been impressed how comfortable the leaders are with each other and how comfortable they are having very, very serious conversations."
11:04 p.m. ET, May 23, 2022

Japan's Kishida says war in Ukraine puts extra emphasis on need for a "free and open Indo-Pacific"

Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida speaks at the Quad summit in Tokyo on Tuesday.
Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida speaks at the Quad summit in Tokyo on Tuesday. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

In his opening remarks at the Quad summit this morning, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida welcomed the other three leaders to Tokyo —  and highlighted the war in Ukraine as a major focus of the meeting.

"A grave incident which has fundamentally shaken the rule of law-based international order we value has happened since we met last September," Kishida said.

"(The) Russian invasion into Ukraine squarely challenges the principles which are enshrined in the United Nations Charter. We should never, ever allow a similar incident to happen in the Indo-Pacific. Because of the harsh reality unfolding, it is extremely significant for us to get together and show to the international society, the four countries' solidarity and our firm commitment toward a shared vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific."

US President Joe Biden also condemned Russia's invasion in his opening remarks, pledging US support for Ukraine.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi —  who has so far resisted condemning the Russian invasion or imposing sanctions on Moscow —  did not mention the war in Ukraine during his opening comments. Instead, Modi emphasized the importance of "mutual cooperation."

"Despite the difficult circumstances of Covid-19, we have increased mutual coordination in several areas such as vaccine delivery, climate action, supply chain resilience, disaster response and economic cooperation," he said. "This will continue to strengthen the image of the Quad as a force for good."
2:30 a.m. ET, May 24, 2022

Australia's new PM Albanese highlights climate change as a key priority for the Quad

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese speaks during the Quad leaders' summit meeting at Kantei Palace, on Tuesday.
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese speaks during the Quad leaders' summit meeting at Kantei Palace, on Tuesday. (Evan Vucci/AP)

Newly-elected Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, leader of the country's Labor Party, is attending the Quad summit today —  just a day after he was sworn in on Monday following his election win Saturday.

One of Albanese's first priorities as Prime Minister will be to rebuild relations with foreign leaders that he says his predecessor, Scott Morrison, has neglected in recent years. They include Pacific Island leaders, including the Solomon Islands, whose leader signed a security pact with Beijing — stoking fears that China plans to build its first military base in the Pacific.

"The new Australian government's priorities align with the Quad agenda — taking action on climate change, and building a stronger and more resilient Indo-Pacific region," he said in his opening remarks Tuesday in Tokyo.

On climate change: Albanese emphasized his administration's commitment to taking action on climate change — one of the main pillars of his campaign, and one of the defining issues of the election.

"We will act in recognition that climate change is the main economic and security challenge for the island countries of the Pacific," he said. "Under my government, Australia will set a new target to reduce emissions by 43% by 2030, putting us on track for net-zero by 2050."

10:27 p.m. ET, May 23, 2022

"A dark hour in our shared history": Biden kicks off summit by addressing Ukraine

During his opening remarks at the start of the Quad summit, US President Joe Biden condemned Russia's invasion of Ukraine and reiterated the US' support for Kyiv.  

“We’re navigating a dark hour in our shared history,” Biden said, as he sat facing the leaders of India, Australia, and Japan. 

“The Russian brutal and unprovoked war against Ukraine has triggered a humanitarian catastrophe. And the innocent civilians have been killed in the streets and millions of refugees are internally displaced, as well as exiled. And this is more than just a European issue, it’s a global issue," he said. 

Biden warned that Russian President Vladimir Putin is “trying to extinguish a culture,” pointing to Russia’s targeting of Ukrainian schools, churches, and museums. 

The US will continue its work with partners to "lead a global response," he said, adding that Russia's invasion “only heightens the importance” of the Quad’s goals and shared values. 

Trying to win over India: Biden's comments come as the White House has said the President intends to speak during the summit with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi —  who has resisted US pressure to punish Russia — about how to strengthen US-India ties, a suggestion he hopes to wean Delhi off its reliance on Russian arms.

India is the only Quad member that has not condemned the invasion or imposed sanctions on Moscow. The two countries have long shared friendly relations, with India reliant on Russian-made weapons.

10:04 p.m. ET, May 23, 2022

The Quad leaders' opening remarks: Ukraine, climate change, security and economic growth

Quad Summit leaders Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, US President Joe Biden, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Australia’s Prime Minister Anthony Albanese meet at Kantei Palace in Tokyo, Japan, May 24.
Quad Summit leaders Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, US President Joe Biden, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Australia’s Prime Minister Anthony Albanese meet at Kantei Palace in Tokyo, Japan, May 24. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

The four quad leaders just sat down to deliver opening remarks, with each speaking in turn.

"We mean business," said US President Joe Biden. "We're here to get things done for the region, and I'm proud of what we're building together."

Prime Ministers Narendra Modi of India, Fumio Kishida of Japan, and Anthony Albanese of Australia also spoke.

They praised the relationships of the Quad, reiterated their goals of establishing a "free and open Indo-Pacific," and raised several issues expected to come up during the summit —  including the war in Ukraine, action on climate change, and providing economic assistance to the Pacific.

"Today we look ahead to the work we're yet to do," said Albanese, who was voted into office on Saturday. "As the Indo-Pacific is reshaped, our Quad partnership is needed now more than ever to meet the challenges and threats of a less certain world — to shape that world for the better, and build a stronger, more cooperative Indo-Pacific region that respects sovereignty."
9:57 p.m. ET, May 23, 2022

The Quad summit has kicked off

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, U.S. President Joe Biden, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi pose for photo before QUAD leaders meeting at the prime minister’s office in Tokyo on May 24.
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, U.S. President Joe Biden, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi pose for photo before QUAD leaders meeting at the prime minister’s office in Tokyo on May 24. (Masanori Genko/The Yomiuri Shimbun/Reuters)

US President Joe Biden arrived at the Kantei Palace in Tokyo earlier this morning, where the Quad summit has kicked off with the leaders of Japan, India and Australia.

The four leaders posed for a photo in front of the four countries’ flags and three arrangements of orchids, warmly greeting each other and shaking hands in front of the cameras.

They are making opening remarks now.