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‘Quad’ meeting of foreign ministers to be held in Australia

FILE PHOTO: Australian Foreign Minister and Minister for Women Marise Payne holds a joint press availability with Secretary Antony Blinken at the U.S. State Department building in Washington, U.S., May 13, 2021. REUTERS/Leah Millis

The Australian government announced on Monday that U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken will visit Australia in February to meet with colleagues from Japan, India, and Australia to discuss Indo-Pacific coordination.

The news: The foreign ministers of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad) will meet for two days in response to the Biden administration’s concerns about China, as tensions with Russia over Ukraine escalate in Europe.

  • China has previously referred to the Quad as a Cold War-era construct and a clique that is “targeting other countries”.
  • The meeting’s date has not been set, but Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne said in a statement that she looks forward to welcome the Quad foreign ministers to Australia in the coming weeks.

What Payne said: “We are a vital network of liberal democracies cooperating to give our region strategic choices, with a focus on practical steps to build the resilience and sovereignty of all states.”

  • The government of Prime Minister Scott Morrison is deepening Australia’s partnerships in the region amid “strategic competition, threats to liberal international order and increasing uncertainty”, she added.

What happened: Because of pandemic restrictions on overseas travel, Japanese media had previously announced that the Quad conference could be held digitally. In a tweet on January 27, Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar revealed that he had tested positive for COVID-19.

  • Officials in Canberra anticipate that the February meeting’s date will allow Jaishankar to recover and return a negative test.
  • Yoshimasa Hayashi, Japan’s foreign minister, is also expected to attend.
  • The Quad grouping has previously addressed increasing COVID-19 vaccine supplies to the region, semiconductor supply chains, and technology cooperation.
  • Joint naval drills have also been held.
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