Secretary of State Blinken heading to Australia for Quad ministerial meeting

External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar, Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne and Japanese Minister for Foreign Affairs Hayashi Yoshimasa, are expected to attend

February 04, 2022 07:43 pm | Updated 07:43 pm IST

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken

The U.S. State Department has announced that Secretary of State Antony Blinken will travel to Australia from February 9-12, for a minister-level meeting of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (the Quad).

External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar, Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne and Japanese Minister for Foreign Affairs Hayashi Yoshimasa, are expected to attend.

This is the first meeting of the Quad after the summit level meeting in Washington DC in September. There was some speculation that the meeting might be held virtually given the global Omicron situation. Mr Jaishankar announced that he had tested positive for COVID-19 on January 27. The isolation period in India is seven days, allowing time for the minister to travel to Australia.

“With our Quad partners, we are delivering results for our populations and the region, including by advancing cooperation on COVID-19 vaccination delivery, humanitarian assistance/disaster relief, maritime security, counter-terrorism, cybersecurity, countering disinformation, climate change, and critical and emerging technologies,” a statement by State Department spokesperson Ned Price said.

China has criticized the Quad , saying it has hyped up the China threat and is trying to drive a wedge between China and countries in the region.

Mr Blinken is also holding meetings with other Australian government officials, including Prime Minister Scott Morrison. He is also visiting Fiji - where his official itinerary includes discussions on a ‘ free and open Indo-Pacific’ with Prime Minister Josaia Voreqe “Frank” Bainimarama. He will then host Mr Hayashi and his South Korean counterpart, Chung Eui-yong in Honolulu for trilateral talks, a focus of which will be North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs, according to the State Department.

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