Afghanistan, Covid to be focus of Quad summit in US on September 24

Afghanistan, Covid to be focus of Quad summit in US on September 24
US troops leaving Afghanistan. [Image for representational purpose only]Image Source: Flickr/Morris

New Delhi: Developments in Afghanistan, the Covid pandemic and ways to expand cooperation for a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific are set to be the central focus of the first in-person summit of the Quad in Washington next week that will be attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other leaders of the four-nation grouping.

In his first visit to the US since President Joe Biden took office, the prime minister will participate in the summit on September 24 in Washington and address the 76th session of the UN General Assembly in New York the next day, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said while announcing the trip.

In Washington, Modi is expected to hold separate bilateral talks with President Biden and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

The Modi-Biden bilateral meeting is expected to take place at the White House on September 23. Both leaders have spoken virtually on multiple occasions after Biden became president in January.

The last time Modi visited the US was in September 2019 when he and then US president Donald Trump addressed the Howdy-Modi event in Houston.

“Prime Minister Narendra Modi would be participating, along with Prime Minister Scott Morrison of Australia, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga of Japan and President Joseph R Biden of USA, in the Leaders’ Summit of the Quadrilateral Framework in Washington DC, USA, on September 24,” the MEA said in a statement.

It said the leaders will review the progress made since their first virtual summit on March 12 and discuss regional issues of shared interest.

“As part of their ongoing efforts to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, they will review the Quad Vaccine initiative which was announced in March this year,” the MEA said.

This will be Modi’s first foreign visit in nearly six months and his second since the outbreak of the pandemic. In March, Modi travelled to Bangladesh to attend events organised to mark the birth centenary of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and 50 years of the war of liberation of that country.

The US is hosting the in-person summit of the leaders of Quad to boost practical cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region as well as to send a strong signal about Washington’s commitment to the grouping.

People familiar with the preparations for the summit said the situation in Afghanistan following the return of the Taliban to power will be deliberated extensively at the summit.

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