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Quad's leaders stress commitment to cooperation
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 13 - 03 - 2021

Leaders of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad), including Australia, India, Japan and the US, have affirmed their commitment to boosting cooperation to overcome challenges.
"We have convened to reaffirm our commitment to quadrilateral cooperation between Australia, India, Japan, and the United States," said a joint statement following the first virtual meeting of the Quad in Washington on Friday.
"We bring diverse perspectives and are united in a shared vision for the free and open Indo-Pacific. "We strive for a region that is free, open, inclusive, healthy, anchored by democratic values, and unconstrained by coercion," it added.
The Quad summit and joint statement marks a significant milestone in the evolution of the grouping, its agenda now clearer and likely to be received positively across the Indo-Pacific.
Since it was revived in 2017 after a decade on the sidelines of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit in Manila, the Quad has acquired considerable momentum. The March 12 summit is an indication that that momentum is far from being spent.
On this historic occasion of March 12, 2021, the first-ever leader-level summit of the Quad, "we pledge to strengthen our cooperation on the defining challenges of our time.
"We support the rule of law, freedom of navigation and overflight, peaceful resolution of disputes, democratic values, and territorial integrity. We reaffirm our strong support for ASEAN's unity and centrality as well as the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific," according to the statement.
They stressed to respond to the economic and health impacts of COVID-19, combat climate change, and address shared challenges, including in cyber space, critical technologies, counterterrorism, quality infrastructure investment, and humanitarian-assistance and disaster-relief as well as maritime domains.
"Building on the progress our countries have achieved on health security, we will join forces to expand safe, affordable, and effective vaccine production and equitable access, to speed economic recovery and benefit global health.
"We recognize that none of us can be safe as long as the pandemic continues to spread. We will, therefore, collaborate to strengthen equitable vaccine access for the Indo-Pacific, with close coordination with multilateral organizations including the World Health Organization and COVAX," it noted.
They call for transparent and results-oriented reform at the World Health Organization.
They said that they are united in recognizing that climate change is a global priority and will work to strengthen the climate actions of all nations, including to keep a Paris-aligned temperature limit within reach.
"We look forward to a successful COP 26 in Glasgow. We will begin cooperation on the critical technologies of the future to ensure that innovation is consistent with a free, open, inclusive, and resilient Indo-Pacific," the statement pointed out.
They said they would continue to prioritize the role of international law in the maritime domain, particularly as reflected in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), and facilitate collaboration, including in maritime security, to meet challenges to the rules-based maritime order in the East and South China Seas.
"We reaffirm our commitment to the complete denuclearization of North Korea in accordance with United Nations Security Council resolutions, and also confirm the necessity of immediate resolution of the issue of Japanese abductees.
"As long-standing supporters of Myanmar and its people, we emphasize the urgent need to restore democracy and the priority of strengthening democratic resilience.
"We will launch a critical- and emerging-technology working group to facilitate cooperation on international standards and innovative technologies of the future; and we will establish a climate working group to strengthen climate actions globally on mitigation, adaptation, resilience, technology, capacity-building, and climate finance," it noted.
"Our experts and senior officials will continue to meet regularly; our Foreign Ministers will converse often and meet at least once a year. At the leader level, we will hold an in-person summit by the end of 2021.
"The ambition of these engagements is fit to the moment; we are committed to leveraging our partnership to help the world's most dynamic region respond to historic crisis, so that it may be the free, open, accessible, diverse, and thriving Indo-Pacific we all seek.
Meanwhile, US President Joe Biden said: "We've got a big agenda ahead of us, gentlemen, as you well know, but I'm optimistic about our prospects
A free and open Indo-Pacific is essential to each of our futures, our countries.
"The United States is committed to working with you, our partners, and all our allies in the region to achieve stability. And this is a group of - particularly important because it's dedicated to the practical solutions and concrete results," he said.
National Security Advisor Jake Saullivan said that the Quad, at the end of the day, is now a critical part of the architecture of the Indo-Pacific, and today's summit also kicks off an intensive stretch of diplomacy in the region.
The president noted in his opening remarks that this is the first multilateral summit he's hosted since taking office, and that's on purpose.
It reflects his view that (we) have to rally democratic allies and partners in common cause and his belief in the centrality of the Indo-Pacific to the national security of the United States, he added.
With Indian manufacturing, US technology, Japanese and American financing and Australian logistics capability, the Quad committed to delivering up to one billion doses to ASEAN, the Indo-Pacific and beyond by the end of 2022.
Sullivan noted that each of the four leaders present had described the meeting as "historic." — Agencies


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