New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will attend the first-ever in-person summit of the four leaders of the Quadrilateral Framework (Quad) in the Indo-Pacific on Friday (Sept 24) in Washington.
U.S. President Joe Biden had convened a virtual Quad summit with PM Modi and his Australian and Japanese counterparts, Scott Morrison and Yoshihide Suga, in March and he has been keen to hold a physical meeting at the earliest. This will be PM Modi’s first in-person meet with US President Joe Biden.
Covid 19, Climate Crisis, Afghanistan, Cybersecurity on QUAD agenda
“The Quad Leaders will be focused on deepening our ties and advancing practical cooperation on areas such as combatting Covid-19, addressing the climate crisis, partnering on emerging technologies and cyberspace, and promoting a free and open Indo-Pacific,” a statement from the White House said.
Before leaving for the US visit PM Modi had said that the summit provides an opportunity to take stock of the outcomes of the Quad leaders’ virtual summit in March and identify priorities for future engagements based on their shared vision for the Indo-Pacific region.
“My visit to the US would be an occasion to strengthen the Comprehensive Global Strategic Partnership with the USA, consolidate relations with our strategic partners — Japan and Australia — and to take forward our collaboration on important global issues,” he said in his departure statement.
The Afghan crisis and its implications, China’s growing assertiveness, ways to stem radicalism and cross-border terrorism, and further expansion of the India-US global partnership are expected to be the central focus of the first in-person meeting between Modi and Biden in Washington on September 24.
At a media briefing on the Prime Minister’s visit to the US, Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla on Tuesday said the developments in Afghanistan will be extensively discussed in the bilateral talks between Modi and Biden and the Indian side will convey that Washington needs to continue to focus on that country.
The Quad summit is expected to show all the four countries as part of a strengthened coalition of “democratic polities, market economies, and pluralistic societies”, as External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar referred to the grouping in a recent speech.
Taliban, terrorism on agenda in bilateral talks with US President
During the bilateral meeting, PM Modi is expected to raise with Biden the way forward with the Taliban government in Afghanistan, according to a person familiar with the Indian official’s agenda. The person was not authorized to comment publicly, as quoted by PTI.
Modi is expected to raise objections to the Taliban’s effort to get recognition at the United Nations. The Modi government also has concerns about the influence it believes Pakistan’s intelligence service exerted in how factions of the Taliban divvied up government offices in Kabul, as per a PTI report.
When the Taliban previously controlled Afghanistan, the group supported militants in Kashmir, a long-disputed territory that’s been at the center of wars and skirmishes between India and Pakistan.
The Haqqani network was behind two suicide bombings of India’s embassy in 2008 and 2009. Members of the network, which the US has designated a terrorist organisation, have been given top positions in the Taliban government.
PM Modi meets Kamal Harris
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has described India and America as “natural partners” as he held the first in-person meeting with Vice President Kamala Harris at the White House during which they decided to further cement the Indo-US strategic partnership and discussed global issues of common interest, including threats to democracy, Afghanistan and the Indo-Pacific.
“India and America are natural partners. We have similar values, similar geopolitical interests,” Modi said in a joint media appearance with Harris on Thursday, the first-ever person of Indian origin to be elected as the vice-president of the United States.
Noting that India and the US are the largest and oldest democracies, Modi said the two countries share values and their coordination and cooperation is also gradually increasing.
After concluding his engagements in Washington, Modi will travel to New York on the evening of September 24 and address the 76th session of the UNGA the next day.
(With PTI inputs)