Prime Minister Narendra Modi, US President Joe Biden, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Japan's Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga on Friday held the first-ever in-person Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad) Summit. The event was hosted by the US President and saw a slew of current issues being discussed.
Prime Minister Modi who met with President Biden for the first time since the latter assumed office in January is also scheduled to address the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Saturday. His address is likely to focus on "pressing global challenges" including the COVID-19 pandemic, the need to combat terrorism, climate change and other important issues.
COVID-19 and Vaccines
Prime Minister Narendra Modi proposed a common international travelling protocol involving mutual recognition of the COVID-19 vaccination certificate at Quad leaders meeting. Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla said that the proposal was "well-received" by all leaders of Quad nations.
The four nations have also pledged to donate more than 120 crore COVID-19 vaccine doses globally, in addition to the vaccines financed through COVAX. A joint statement released by the White House added that 7.9 crore doses have already been collectively delivered to the Indo-Pacific region.
Turmoil in Afghanistan
The Quad leaders on Friday extended support to Afghan nationals and urged the Taliban to provide safe passage to anyone wishing to leave the country. The leaders also called upon the new Afghanistan administration to ensure that the human rights of all citizens, including women, children, and minorities are respected.
In a joint statement the leaders said that they would closely coordinate diplomatic, economic, and human-rights policies towards Afghanistan. They also pledged to deepen their "counter-terrorism and humanitarian cooperation in the months ahead in accordance with UNSCR 2593". UN Security Council resolution 2593, passed under the presidency of India, demands Afghan soil shouldn't be used in any way for terrorism and seeks an inclusive and negotiated settlement to the crisis in the war-torn country.
Terrorism and a veiled reference to Pakistan
The Quad nations on Friday denounced the use of "terrorist proxies" in South Asia even as they emphasised the importance of denying any support to terrorist groups which could be used to launch or plan terror attacks, including cross-border attacks. The four leaders said that they would deepen their counter-terrorism and humanitarian cooperation in South Asia.
Engagement with North Korea
The Quad leaders called on North Korea to engage in dialogue, refrain from provocations and abide by the UN Security Council resolutions that prohibit its ballistic missile tests. "We reaffirm our commitment to the complete denuclearisation of North Korea in accordance with UN Security Council resolutions, and also confirm the necessity of immediate resolution of the issue of Japanese abductees," the leaders said in a joint statement.
India and H-1B visas
During his first ever in-person meeting with Biden, Prime Minister Modi raised a number of issues involving the Indian community in America, including access for Indian professionals in the US and speaking about the H-1B visa. Modi also spoke about the many Indian professionals who work in the US and contribute to Social Security.
"The return of those contributions in the United States is something that affects the number of Indian workers," Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla told reporters at a news conference.
A permanent seat in UN Security Council
Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla said that India presidency of the UN Security Council, especially amid the Afghanistan cricis had been appreciated by the President. "Biden was very specific in stating that he felt India should have a permanent seat in the UN Security Council," Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla said after Modi's meeting with his US counterpart.
(With inputs from agencies)