Leaders to meet in person for first time on Friday; Afghan crisis to top agenda
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and U.S. President Joe Biden will meet on Friday for their first in-person discussion, the White House announced on Monday. In a publicly released schedule, the bilateral was listed first, followed by a summit-level meeting of Quad leaders.
“…In an interesting way, the bilateral discussion between the U.S. and India will help reinforce and give momentum to the Quad discussion because many of the topics are very much interrelated,” a senior administration official said in response to a question from The Hindu, while speaking to presspersons on a briefing call.
Afghanistan and, more broadly, counterterrorism will be part of the agenda for the bilateral discussions, the official said. India has been concerned that Afghanistan will become a safe haven for terrorists and a base from which they can step up attacks on the Indian territory.
The two leaders will also compare notes, the official said, on a range of regional issues and developments. It is likely they will discuss dynamics with Beijing as part of this.
Focus on COVID-19
The main areas of consultation and announcements for the Quad Leaders Summit on Friday will be around addressing the COVID-19 pandemic, as per the senior official. At a virtual summit in March, Quad leaders launched a vaccine initiative — supplying at least a billion vaccines in Asia by the end of 2022. On Friday there will be announcements on moving that goal forward.
The official also told presspersons that in the list of Quad outcomes will be one related to its core objective for the region — “…an overarching commitment at the core of the Quad to promoting a free and open Indo Pacific,” the official said.
On last week’s launch of a trilateral security partnership for the Indo-Pacific, AUKUS, the senior administration official reiterated that the deal was “unique”. “This is for Australia, and it is based on a unique set of circumstances involving the Australian case.”
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