The first virtual meeting of the four Quad leaders after Joseph Biden took office as American president offers clear signals that the four-nation grouping of the US, Japan, Australia, and India is moving decisively beyond the narrow security partnership to a geo-political grouping that encompasses other areas of cooperation as a means of challenging China’s regional hegemony. This much was clear from a Ministry of External Affairs statement ahead of the summit, referring to maintaining a “free open and inclusive Indo-Pacific region” and to building relations to ensure “resilient supply chains, emerging and critical technologies, maritime security and climate change”. Instead of limiting itself, as it has in the past, to a programme of joint naval exercises, the four leaders leveraged the flexible nature of the grouping — there is no explicit treaty that binds it — to address the most urgent global challenge, of tackling the Covid-19 pandemic.
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First Published: Sun, March 14 2021. 22:49 IST