File image of Prime Minister Narendra Modi
The first-ever leaders' summit of Quad - a multilateral group involving India, the United States, Japan and Australia - will be held on March 12, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said on March 9.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi would be attending the meeting set to be held virtually, the MEA said. Along with Modi, US President Joe Biden, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and his Japanese counterpart Suga Yoshihide would also be present.
"The leaders will discuss regional and global issues of shared interest, and exchange views on practical areas of cooperation towards maintaining a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific region," the MEA statement said.
The summit will provide an opportunity to exchange views on contemporary challenges such as resilient supply chains, emerging and critical technologies, maritime security, and climate change, the ministry added.
"The leaders will discuss ongoing efforts to combat Covid-19 pandemic and explore opportunities for collaboration in ensuring safe, equitable and affordable vaccines in the Indo-Pacific region," it further stated.
The Quad, also referred to as the Quadrilateral Framework, has been in discussion since 2007. Efforts have been ramped up over the past couple of years to formalise its functioning.
The multilateral body is also being seen as a challenge to China's assertion in the geopolitical realm.
"The Quad grouping was essentially established – I believe it was in 2007 in the first iteration – to showcase what democracies can deliver together for both our own populations and also the broader international public," Edward Price, spokesperson of the US Department of State said.
"The leader-level summit meeting will be the first of its kind, the first leader-level summit of the Quad. It will showcase the Quad’s ability to pool our capabilities and build habits of cooperation to address some of those urgent challenges we face," Price said.
Price added that the Quad is not about a single challenge or a single competitor and that it is an entity forged and formed because "we share common interests".
The Chinese state media, while reacting to the recent developments initiated by the Quad members, said the alliance would be "doomed to fail".
Calling the Quad an experiment of the United States, the Global Times - which reflects the official views of China's Communist Party - said the coalition "will end up in dismay, as other members in the club have an 'all-for-itself' agenda, and won't tie themselves to the US' scheme."