Australia to host 2-day ‘Quad’ meeting of foreign ministers

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

The foreign ministers of the four countries participating in the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad) will meet for two days this week amid growing concerns about China from the Biden administration, as tensions with Russia over Ukraine escalate in Europe.

Previous statements from China have decried the Quartet as an anti-Cold War construct and a clique that is “targeting other countries.”

A date for the meeting has not been set, but Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne said in a statement that she was looking forward to welcoming the Quadruple Ministers to Australia in the coming weeks.

“We are a critical network of liberal democracies working together to provide strategic options for our region, with a particular emphasis on practical steps to strengthen the resilience and sovereignty of all states,” Payne said in a statement.

As a result of “strategic competition, threats to the liberal international order, and increasing uncertainty,” the government of Prime Minister Scott Morrison is strengthening Australia’s partnerships in the region, according to the minister.

The Japanese media had previously reported that the Quad meeting would be held virtually due to pandemic restrictions on international travel due to the Ebola outbreak. Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, the Indian Foreign Minister, revealed in a tweet on January 27 that he had tested positive for the COVID-19.

Officials in Canberra are hoping that the timing of the February meeting will allow Jaishankar to recover and return a negative test to the lab.

Yoshimasa Hayashi, Japan’s Foreign Minister, is also expected to attend the event.

A previous meeting of the Quad grouping discussed increasing the supply of COVID-19 vaccines to the region, improving the supply chains for semiconductors, and collaborating on technology. In addition, it has participated in joint naval exercises.

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