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World

In message to China, Biden to meet Australia, India, Japan PMs

Shaun Tandon - Agence France-Presse
In message to China, Biden to meet Australia, India, Japan PMs
US President Joe Biden, then the vice president, huddles in 2014 with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi alongside John Kerry, then the US secretary of state.
AFP

WASHINGTON, United States — US President Joe Biden will hold first-ever joint talks Friday with the leaders of Australia, India and Japan, boosting an emerging four-way alliance often cast as a bulwark against China.

It will be one of the first summits, albeit in virtual format, for Biden, who has vowed to revive US alliances in the wake of the disarray of Donald Trump's administration.

"That President Biden has made this one of his earliest multilateral engagements speaks to the importance that we place on close cooperation with our allies and partners in the Indo-Pacific," White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters Tuesday.

The meeting of the so-called "Quad" comes amid rising tensions with China, which is seen as flexing its muscle both in trade and security realms.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that Biden was "taking this to another level."

"It will be an historic moment in our region and it sends a strong message to the region about our support for a sovereign, independent Indo-Pacific," Morrison told reporters.

Both Psaki and India, which earlier announced the participation of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, said that the talks would take up climate change and the Covid-19 pandemic -- two key priorities for Biden.

"The leaders will discuss regional and global issues of shared interest, and exchange views on practical areas of cooperation towards maintaining a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific region," the Indian foreign ministry said in a statement.

The talks, also involving Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, will touch as well on promoting maritime security and "ensuring safe, equitable and affordable vaccines" to fight Covid-19 in Asia, the Indian statement said.

China's growing assertiveness

Japan said that Suga spoke separately Thursday to Modi and voiced alarm about China's "unilateral attempts to change the status quo in the East and China Sea" as well as the status of rights in Xinjiang and Hong Kong.

State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters that the Quad was well-equipped to deal with the world's "urgent challenges" but, asked about China, said, the format is "not about any single competitor."

The summit follows talks on February 18 among the foreign ministers of the Quad when they pressed jointly for a restoration of democracy in Myanmar after the military ousted democratic leader Aung San Suu Kyi on February 1.

US officials cast the meeting as a key way of exerting pressure as India and Japan enjoy closer relationships with Myanmar's military -- which has historically counted on China as its main source of support.

The Quad foreign ministers, however, were careful not to make an explicit mention of China, which has voiced alarm at what it sees as an effort to gang up on its interests in Asia.

After Biden's election, Chinese state media had printed articles calling on India to end the Quad, seeing New Delhi as the most likely opponent.

But views have hardened in India after a pitched battle in the Himalayas last year killed at least 20 Indian troops. China has named four dead in confirmation that took half a year.

Australia has also shown growing willingness to participate in the Quad as relations deteriorate with Beijing, last year joining naval exercises with the three other nations off India's shores.

The Quad was launched in 2007 by Japan's then prime minister Shinzo Abe, who was alarmed at China's growing assertiveness around Asia.

Biden has pledged in general terms to continue his predecessor's hawkish line on China, including by pressing on human rights and territorial disputes.

But the Biden administration has promised what it considers a more productive approach that includes boosting ties with allies and finding limited areas for cooperation with Beijing such as climate change.

AUSTRALIA CHINA INDIA JAPAN JOE BIDEN UNITED STATES
As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: January 23, 2022 - 8:09am

Joe Biden takes office as the 46th president of the United States with an optimistic call for unity, vowing to bridge deep divides and defeat domestic extremism two weeks after a violent mob tried to undo his election victory.

On a frigid but sunny day at the very Capitol building that was assaulted on January 6, Biden was sworn in moments after Kamala Harris became America's first woman vice president, closing the book on Donald Trump's tumultuous four years.

"Democracy is precious, democracy is fragile and at this hour, my friends, democracy has prevailed," Biden says before a National Mall that was virtually empty due to the ultra-tight security and a raging COVID-19 pandemic that he vowed to confront immediately.  — AFP

January 23, 2022 - 8:09am

President Joe Biden marks the 49th anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court ruling establishing abortion rights in the United States by again urging that those rights be enshrined in federal law.

"The constitutional right established in Roe v. Wade nearly 50 years ago today is under assault as never before," Biden says in a statement on Saturday in which he was joined by Vice President Kamala Harris.

"It is a right we believe should be codified into law, and we pledge to defend it with every tool we possess." — AFP

January 20, 2022 - 8:42am

President Joe Biden says that his first year in office has been a year of "challenges" but also one of "enormous progress."

"It's been a year of challenges, but it's also been a year of enormous progress," Biden says at a press conference held to mark his inauguration a year ago. — AFP

January 17, 2022 - 8:52am

US President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida will meet virtually Friday to discuss bilateral ties as well as security in the Pacific region, the White House said.

On the agenda will be fighting Covid-19 and climate change and exploring new technologies, according to a statement Sunday from the White House.  

"The meeting will highlight the strength of the US-Japan Alliance, which is the cornerstone of peace, security, and stability in the Indo-Pacific and around the world," White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said in the statement. — AFP

January 13, 2022 - 8:33am

US inflation is "too high" and the Federal Reserve will make the issue a priority, Lael Brainard, the nominee to take the number-two position at the central bank, said Wednesday.

The Fed's "most important task" is to focus on "getting inflation back down to two percent while sustaining a recovery that includes everyone," Brainard said in remarks prepared for delivery at her nomination hearing before the Senate Banking Committee on Thursday. — AFP

January 8, 2022 - 12:34pm

US President Joe Biden will deliver the traditional State of the Union (SOTU) address March 1, the White House says, as the Democrat struggles to tame COVID-19 and get his stalled legislative agenda through Congress.

March is later than usual for the annual address, which a president typically delivers in late January or early February.

The timing is likely due to the pandemic: the Omicron variant is spreading like wildfire in the United States as in other countries and the presidential address is usually given to a packed audience of both chambers of Congress and many VIP guests. — AFP

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