Joe Biden-Suga Yoshihide ‘likely’ to announce next in-person Quad Summit, says U.S. official

Combo photo of U.S. President Joe Biden with Japan’s Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide.   | Photo Credit: AFP

U.S. President Joe Biden will host Japanese Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide at the White House on Friday — the first foreign leader visit for a Presidency that began at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The two leaders are likely to announce the next in-person Quad (India, the U.S., Japan and Australia) meeting, according to a senior administration official. At their first summit level meeting, held virtually on March 12, Quad leaders had committed to meeting in person before the end of this year.

Also read: Quad Summit strengthens America’s hand before talks with China: U.S. official

Mr Suga and Mr Biden are also expected to discuss regional security including North Korea, China and China-Taiwan issues. Japan is also expected to announce a $2 billion 5G network technology initiative.

Mr Suga is scheduled to meet with Vice President Kamala Harris in the morning and will hold a joint press conference with Mr Biden following their meetings in the afternoon, where an announcement on the Quad is “likely.”

Also read: Editorial | Summit spirit: On Quad and India’s interests

The leaders are expected to review a Quad initiative to supply up to a billion doses of the Johnson and Johnson (J & J) COVID-19 vaccine to South East Asia and the Pacific. The plan will harness India’s vaccine manufacturing capabilities, American and Japanese finance and Australia’s distribution capacity. However, these plans could run into trouble as U.S. drug authorities paused the use of the J&J vaccine this week after a handful of the close to 7 million recipients developed blood clots.

“…I think the two leaders are going to review the progress to date on this [ the Quad vaccine distribution plan] and underscore future plans of what we want to do -- the future plans of what we want to do in the Quad going forward,” a senior administration official told reporters on a briefing call on Thursday.

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“So we view the Quad, even though it’s an unofficial gathering, as a huge part of the architecture of the Indo-Pacific going forward,” the official said.

Some amount of time will be spent discussing the Japan-South Korea relationship, which has historically been strained since Japan’s occupation of Korea in 1910.

The two leaders will also discuss China’s recent assertiveness with regard to Taiwan, with a view to sending a message to China that flying its fighters into Taiwan’s airspace is destabilizing, as per the official who briefed reporters on Thursday. The U.S. and Japan would like to “calm tensions” and “discourage provocations” , the official said.

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Printable version | May 16, 2021 9:46:05 PM |

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