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US proposes first in-person Quad leaders’ meet in Sept

New Delhi: The US has proposed to India, Japan and Australia that the first in-person Quad meeting of their leaders be held in late September in Washington.

Citing diplomatic sources, Japan’s Kyodo News said the face-to-face meeting, the first-ever since the virtual Quad summit held in March. would underscore the unity among the four Indo-Pacific democracies amid China’s growing assertiveness.

President Joe Biden is seeking to build “a position of strength” to directly engage with Chinese President Xi Jinping, possibly on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit in Rome in late October, Kyodo said.

The Quad summit is expected to take place after the general debate of the UN General Assembly scheduled in September in New York, the sources said.

The debate usually brings together world leaders who deliver speeches at the UN headquarters, but pre-recorded video statements will be allowed amid the coronavirus pandemic, leaving uncertain whether the leaders of India, Japan, and Australia will travel to the US.

In June, Kurt Campbell, White House coordinator for the Indo-Pacific, mentioned the US plan to host the first in-person Quad summit in Washington in the fall.

At a think tank event, Campbell said the meeting is expected to discuss efforts to expand coronavirus vaccine production and possible cooperation on infrastructure projects.

The move is apparently intended to counter China, which is believed to be increasing its clout through the so-called vaccine diplomacy by offering shots to developing countries, as well as through its cross-border “Belt and Road” infrastructure initiative, Kyodo said.

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