New Delhi: Japan has proposed May 24 as the date for the next Quad Leaders’ Summit, coinciding with US President Joe Biden’s visit to Tokyo, though the date is yet to be locked down as it falls just days after Australia’s general election.
The White House has announced that Biden will travel to South Korea and Japan during May 20-24 and also attend the summit of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue or Quad in Tokyo. Biden will also hold bilateral meetings with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida during the visit, the White House said.
People familiar with the matter said the Japanese side had initially proposed that the Quad Summit should be held in April, before proposing May 24. While the US has agreed to the proposal, the Australian side has pointed out that the date is just days after the country’s general election on May 21.
The issue has been further complicated for the Australian side as an electoral victory for Prime Minister Scott Morrison is not a certainty. Polling earlier this month has shown Morrison’s government could lose the federal election.
Though Morrison consolidated his own position as Australia’s preferred leader, the polling showed Morrison’s Liberal-National Party coalition, which has a single seat majority in Parliament, could lose up to 10 seats to the Labour party.
It is now up to the three other members of Quad – Australia, Japan and the US – to agree on holding the summit on May 24, the people cited above said.
If the summit goes ahead as planned, this will be the first in-person meeting between Modi and Biden since the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24. They met during the Quad Summit held in the US last September and also participated in a virtual summit that was convened by Biden on March 3, shortly after the hostilities began in Ukraine.
At that virtual summit, Modi emphasised the need to return to a path of dialogue and diplomacy – a message that he has also conveyed in his phone conversations with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy – and also underlined that the Quad must remain focused on its “core objective” of promoting peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific.
Modi also called for concrete and practical cooperation within the Quad in areas such as humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, debt sustainability, supply chains, clean energy, and connectivity.
White House spokesperson Jen Psaki has said Biden will, during his upcoming visit to South Korea and Japan, discuss opportunities to deepen vital security relationships, enhance economic ties and expand close cooperation to deliver practical results.
“This trip will advance the Biden-Harris administration’s rock-solid commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific,” she said.